Thrice the Brinded Cat Hath Mew'd by Alan Bradley

Cover of Thrice the Brinded Cat Hath Mew'd by Alan Bradley

Cover of Thrice the Brinded Cat Hath Mew'd by Alan Bradley

Thrice the Brinded Cat Hath Mew'd is the eighth book in Alan Bradley's mystery series set in 1950s England featuring Flavia de Luce, a twelve-year-old chemistry genius and expert on poisons.  After being expelled from a boarding school in Canada, Flavia returns to her family house, Buckshaw.  She expects a warm welcome from her father, her two older sisters, Feely (Ophelia) and Daffy (Daphne), and the family's faithful servant, Dogger.  But when she arrives in England, only Dogger is there to meet her.  She learns that her father is in the hospital with pneumonia and is too ill to see her.  Her sisters do not appear to have missed her, and her obnoxious cousin, Undine, has taken her place in the household.

To escape from the unhappy atmosphere at home, Flavia rides her bicycle, Gladys, to deliver a letter from the vicar's wife to a wood-carver who's supposed to repair the gargoyles in the church.  But she finds the man dead, hanging upside-down from his bedroom door.  The only witness is a cat who doesn't seem at all concerned.  Flavia, as usual, does her own investigation before calling the police.  She finds several first editions of children's poetry in the dead man's room, and wonders why the man, who had no children or grandchildren, kept these volumes in his bedroom.  As she continues her investigation, Flavia discovers that the author of the poetry met a mysterious end several years before, and that he had been involved with the aunt of an acquaintance of Flavia's, a woman who had also died a suspicious death.  What is the connection between these people and the latest victim, and what does the wood-carver's neighbor, a woman who's rumored to be a witch, know about these deaths?

The intrepid Flavia is one of the most original heroines in current mystery fiction.  She's strong-minded, highly intelligent, adventurous, but vulnerable.  After all, she is still a child in years.  In this volume, she shows a new maturity, as she travels to London by herself and tries to balance her wish to see her father with her desire to solve the crime.  I will not give too much away, but at the end of this book, the series takes a dark turn, and it will be interesting to see what's in store for Flavia in the next volume.

Thrice the Brinded Cat Hath Mew'd can be borrowed from the Shapiro Undergraduate Library.  But I would recommend following Flavia's adventures from the beginning.  The first book in the series, The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie is available from the Browsing Collection of the Shapiro Undergraduate Library.