RogerBW's Blog

I Am Half-Sick of Shadows, Alan Bradley 04 November 2016

2011 historical mystery; fourth in Bradley's series about Flavia de Luce, young amateur sleuth in 1950s Britain. As Christmas approaches, Buckshaw is let to a film crew who'll be making The Cry of the Raven, starring the famous Phyllis Wyvern. But not all of the company will be leaving again.

We're finally out of the endless, murderous summer of this series, and into a winter story: much of the population of the village ends up stuck at Buckshaw after a blizzard blows in.

Alas, this book (the second of this series to be published in 2011) shows signs of haste both in writing and in editing: for example, in three successive chapters, a character is sent out into the snowstorm to fetch specific people, is in the house talking, and comes back out of the snowstorm with the people he's fetched. More seriously, the book often feels as if it's marking time; various recurring characters are mentioned, as if to remind us that they still exist in the series' world, but there's very little by way of progress in the overarching story.

The atmosphere does rather overwhelm the mystery, with the murder happening about half-way through and being investigated in quite a desultory way. With all the padding, I begin to suspect this was inflated to meet a word count.

For me, the weakest of the books so far. Followed by Speaking from Among the Bones, and I haven't gone on to read it – though I suspect I shall at some point.

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