The Golden Tresses of the Dead

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 25 Mar 2019

Member Reviews

These novels are set in an imaginary English village in the early 1950's.  The compelling heroine, Flavia de Luce.  is in her early teens.  She has a persistent nature and a talent for chemistry which sometimes, of course, gets her into trouble.  The novels move in time but not so much that Flavia loses her childish appeal while maintaining her curious nature.   Flavia is an advanced chemist with her own lab and finds nothing more fun than using her beakers and formulas to answer questions.  

In this book, Dodger, a survivor of WWII, and a former servant in the household, and Flavia have formed their own detective agency.  This ruse is more so that the adult can keep his eye on Flavia without insulting her.  Dogger treats her respectfully as an equal while being aware of larger issues and always allowing her to solve the mystery which he may have done earlier.  

This book begins with the wedding of "Feely" (all the sisters have nicknames), Flavia's older sister.  As Feely cuts into her wedding cake, she finds a severed human finger embedded beneath the icing.  Whose is it and why becomes the mystery to solve. In these charming books, the murder  is always rather secondary to the fun of watching the parentless Flavia try to impress the adults she admires with her deductions and how Dodger encourages her chemistry experiments while trying to shield her from harm.   It is a more innocent time and the murders reflect that.  These are cozy mysteries with no torture leading up to a corpse.

Flavia, in her chemistry lab, sets about identifying mysterious liquids or other substances and gives a running commentary of what she is up to for the reader which is one of the clever and more fun aspects of reading these novels.   There is always a dreamlike quality as the author gently transports the reader through peaceful English gardens and as train whistles penetrate foggy stations.    

There is a dreamlike quality to these novels that transports the reader through English lanes as trains whistle 
through fog.  The former grand manor has seen better days but the faithful staff remains as the drapes become threadbare.   A continuing theme is the respect Flavia craves from the local constable, Inspector Hewitt, who finds her both appealing and annoying.

The addition of Undine, a younger version of Flavia herself without the charm, is nothing more than an irritation taking up space and taking away from the action.  By the end of the first chapter, I found myself hoping she might be the victim.  

Dialogue featuring the cook, Mrs. Mullet, is sometimes written with extreme patois featuring many apostrophes and at other times in standard English.  If she can say things like "guarantees descendants," and "tell me no lies," surely she can say "and."  In one particularly jarring paragraph, she says, "'Else the marriage will be poisoned,"  (no patois) and then "The weddin' cake must be laid down at least six months before the nup-chools?"   Perhaps just saying that Mrs. Mullet responded, dropping her n's and g's as usual rather than doing it for her?   

Of course, it is always fun reading these books and this reader has been a fan since Book One.  Hopefully, Flavia will continue to age at a snail's pace and Mr. Bradley will find a more compelling character to replace Undine.
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Full of Flavia's usual snappy dialogue and witty insight.  Yes, the plot is formulaic, but that is exactly what we expect from our dear Flavia.
I received an ARC from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.
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I received this book as an ARC from NetGalley.

I have enjoyed following Flavia in the Alan Bradley series. In this 10th installment, the reader sees the now teenage Flavia begin to mature and take on a more adult approach to matters. She and Dogger form a detective agency and solve their first case. Although she has successfully solved other mysteries by herself, Flavia is now more comfortable collaborating with others. 

While this mystery is not dependent on the previous books, it would be helpful for the reader to become familiar with the characters by reading one or more of the previous novels. 

I look forward to further adventures of Flavia de Luce.
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As much as I've enjoyed the Flavia de Luce series, I'm happy to see Flavia finally starting to grow up. It seemed like she would be eleven and it would be 1950 forever, and while her precociousness was charming at first, I started to feel a bit weary once we got several books deep. The previous book, The Grave's a Fine and Private Place, dealt with the aftermath of Colonel de Luce's death and the odious cousin Undine settling into Buckshaw for good. This time, Flavia's saying goodbye to Feely, whose wedding is the scene of the murder/precipitating event ( a severed finger found in the wedding cake!), and Daffy doesn't even make an appearance. Flavia and Dogger and their new detective agency are the stars of the show, and even Udine and Mrs. Mullet don't get much attention. 

The mystery is fine for what it is, but I was more interested in what has changes. It's now 1952, and Flavia is showing signs she's growing up. Instead of always having the answers, she defers to Dogger in several conversations, and she even admits when Undine knows something she doesn't. Basically, we get a less snarky, more empathetic Flavia. The mystery of the severed finger is fun, and involves missionaries, relics, a famous musician, con artists, and Flavia galloping around town on Gladys, her trusty bicycle steed. I've heard this is the last book in the series, which makes me a little sad, but I think it's going out on a good note.
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In this 10th installment life for Flavia is full of changes. The most noticeable is her sister Feely's marriage. The more subtle is changes in Flavia herself as she is on the verge of becoming a teenager. Never fear though, Flavia is still a girl that loves chemistry and solving crimes. Imagine her excitement when a human finger is found in her sister's wedding cake! She views it as the perfect first case for her and Dogger to investigate, which unsurprisingly leads to the inevitable tangled and sinister mystery.

As for a rating... I have mixed feelings. As usual I enjoyed the writing style and characters. It's always fun to spend more time in Flavia's head. In this case, her confusion over her pendulum of emotions (such as confidence to uncertainty, or joy to deep sadness) felt realistic and relatable. It's also great that Flavia now has Dogger as a full-time partner in crime (solving) that she can confide in. However, I felt rather indifferent about the actual mystery. While the science was fascinating, I never was overly concerned with figuring out what was going on. Even when the mystery was explained, the motives and chain of events weren't very clear to me.

Overall, it was a good continuation of the series, but I doubt it would be a compelling read to someone who hadn't read the first 9 books. 

Thanks to NetGalley and Random House-Ballantine for providing me with a digital review copy!
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I truly enjoyed this latest addition to the Flavia de Luce series, though I don't think the mystery was quite a tight as some of the previous novels.  However!  It was still a completely charming read, and Flavia is still as Flavia as ever. In this book, we get to learn a little more about Dogger, and see a little bit more of who he is as a person, instead of a fixture of the household.  I think as Flavia grows and matures (slightly), we'll continue to see Dogger in a new light, just as she does.  All in all, highly recommended for fans of the series.
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Thank You Net Galley for the free ARC. 

Yes, Flavia is back and Feely and Dogger and a mysterious case to solve. I love anything Bishop's Lacey and fervently wish BBC would make a TV series out of this wonderful family of novels. Here Flavi and Dogger are running their own detective company and are after some stolen letters and of course, accompanying murders. No worries, chemistry to the rescue!
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3 stars. 

Sigh. I wanted to love The Golden Tresses of the Dead. It’s not the first Flavia de Luce book that I’ve read, and I always have such high expectations going in. I love the Flavia character. I love the wit and the sly humor in the writing. I love cozy mysteries. 

And yet, these never seem to move beyond three stars for me. Perhaps it is because the plot is so ridiculously hard to follow. I reached the end of the book and am still not sure I understand who committed the crime or why. That’s not due to a lack of focus - in fact, I reread a couple chapters several times, even backtracking to different parts of the book to remind myself of characters and plot points. I think it’s ultimately Bradley’s writing that does it in - while it’s often clever, it is unnecessarily dense, and I often have to read the same paragraph 3 or 4 times to catch his meaning. 

I’m sure I’ll keep trying with more of Flavia’s tales, but this isn’t going to be the story that converts me.
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This is a really interesting series, not in that it is a mystery set in 20th century England, but more in the sense of the main sleuth being 10 years old and dealing with such morbid material.
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As good as all of Mr. Bradley's others.  The deepening relationship between Flavia and Dogger is a joy to read, and the typical flavor of the surrounding characters was as fun as always.  Highly recommend both this book and the whole series.
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I had a rough time with the last few books in this series, but they have been inching closer to the origins and this one is pretty close to the Flavia I know and love!  In this book, Dogger and Flavia open a detective agency.  Sadly, their services are required sooner rather than later when a severed finger is found in Feely’s (Flavia’s sister, Ophelia’s) wedding cake.  Flavia has a lot to deal with, what with the new agency, a finger without a body, her sister’s wedding and absence from the house, visiting missionaries, and residual effects of the events from the last book.  All in all, Flavia is back in top form.  I was just a bit confused (as I always am) at the science-y stuff in the middle, as well as the hows and whys of the whodunnit.  Thank goodness there is a recap at the end to catch me up to speed.  I look forward to the next book.  I received an advanced reader copy of this book from NetGalley and the publisher. (oh, and I love the cover!)
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Its so nice to catch up with Flavia:) After the death of her father and her oldest sister getting married, she and Dogger set up their own investigative agency. Something is up in Bishop's Lacey and Flavia sets out to find out what. Two missionaries from Africa are staying at Buckshaw but Flavia thinks there's something not right about the two ladies. Leave it to Flavia to be curious and want to "snoop". Her and Dogger are quite the team! It's no secret that I love Flavia and I'm always ready for a new adventure with her. I did miss the interactions with her sisters. Feely is on her honeymoon and Daphne stays in the library writing/reading--and we never get a chance of Flavia being with Daphne. We do get to see everyone else though--Mrs. Mullet, Undine, the vicar's wife, and so one. Another cute installment in the series.

*Thank you to the publisher and Netgalley for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.
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There isn’t another series of which I am aware that does such a masterful job of growing a protagonist from child to teen to (eventually) adult. Flavia de Luce has engaged readers since her first appearance in Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie, and continues to do so throughout the series. Initially a precocious, brilliant but still vulnerable child, we have traveled with Flavia as she has become a (still) brilliant and cheeky teen tempered by tragedy and change. Her insatiable desire to know the world, coupled with her tender regard for Dogger and need for acceptance by the Hewitts has made Flavia into a classic.

In this new entry in the series, we find Flavia and Dogger tackling a new case, precipitated by a gruesome discovery in sister Daphne’s wedding cake. The relationship between Dogger and Flavia continues to develop as they grow their detecting business, and provides a vehicle for the author to demonstrate Flavia’s maturity. Absent both her parents, Flavia looks to Dogger to guide her through difficult situations. 

As we have come to expect, Bradley delivers a clever and funny story that keeps the reader guessing. Fans of the series will eat this up. Recommended.
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Another great installment in this series. I love Flavia. Such a unique Nd fun character.  This story had really only Flavia and Dogger much of the time. I missed some of the usual interactions, but still enjoyed the story overall
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Another highly enjoyable Flavia de Luce mystery.
Flavia is such an engaging character and her interactions with others are highly amusing. 
This mystery was a little strained, but still kept me involved.
I can't wait for the next Flavia adventure.
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My most sincere thanks to Netgalley and Penguin Random House for the chance to read Flavia's newest adventure early and review it.

I adore Flavia - her curiosity, her calculating mind, and her thirst for adventure. I also loved Dogger in this one and how he had a main role. Like Flavia says, he has said more words to other people during this investigation than he's said in all the others combined. Another great case for Flavia - these just keep getting better and better.
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A satisfying end to the Flavia de Luce series. I have really enjoyed these books, especially the characters. I really liked the developing professional relationship between Flavia and Dogger as they begin their new business solving crimes together. I hope we hear more about Flavia and company in the future.
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Writing: 4/5 Plot: 3.5/5 Characters: 3.5/5

New word (to me): deliquescence — the process by which a substance absorbs moisture from the atmosphere until it dissolves in the absorbed water and forms a solution. 

Shakespeare’s sonnet on grave robbers starts “Before the golden tresses of the dead…” which gives a hint as to the subject matter of this delightful installment of the Flavia De Luce series.  For those of you who haven’t met Flavia before, she is the precocious pre-teen with a penchant for poisons and passion for chemistry and now the owner of Buckshaw — the somewhat decaying family estate in Bishop’s Lacy.  This episode was internally referred to as the “Curious Case of the Clue in the Cake” (said clue was the finger bone of a recently deceased Spanish guitarist found in Flavia’s sister’s wedding cake!) — but the digit-based investigation uncovers a more deliciously evil plot swirling around homeopathic distillations and murder.

Bradley’s writing is fun — every volume is full of arcane references in the fields of literature, history, anthropology, architecture, and of course Flavia’s favorite: chemistry.  My favorite line: 

“Like a sponge the human brain can only absorb so much before it begins to leak.”  

This one is pretty good too:

“Great music has much the same effect upon humans as cyanide, I managed to think:  It paralyzes the respiratory system.”

You can certainly read this one without the others — or really start anywhere you like in the series, though there is a nice progression to going in order.
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Feely's wedding is wonderful but  the reception has a bit of excitement which throws everyone for a loop.  It does however allow Dogger and Flavia to get on the trail of the miscreant.  Dogger and Flavia make a great team - the best detective duo .    Dogger really comes into his own in this installment. There is absolutely nothing to disappoint the reader - the humor, the plot, everything.  The series keeps getting better and better.
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I received a copy of this title from the publisher for an honest review.  Arthur W. Dogger and Associates get their first case, Feely gets married, and Flavia finds a body; all in a day's work for the intrepid Flavia De Luce.  The book opens with Feely's wedding where all is going smoothly (barring Undine's ventriloquism at the church) when a finger is found when in the wedding cake.  Quick thinking leads Flavia to wrap the finger in a napkin and whisk it away to her laboratory for testing before it is turned over to the police.  The next day finds the very first client of Arthur Dogger and Associates, Mrs. Prill requesting help locating some missing letters.  Agreeing to take the case, Flavia and Dogger quickly learn that their client may not have been completely honest with them and the case quickly becomes much bigger than some missing letters.  During all this, Flavia is growing up and struggling with all the changes in her life recently including the death of her father and her sister's marriage and the fact Feely and Dieter are soon to be setting up their own household.  Undine continues to be a thorn in Flavia's side, but will Flavia begin to see some of herself in the little girl and develop some sympathy for her?  This is an entertaining entry in a great series - I hope Flavia continues to solve many more mysteries.
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