I Am Half-Sick of Shadows, a Lady of Shallot painting (1918) by John William Waterhouse
It’s Christmastime, and the precocious Flavia de Luce—an eleven-year-old sleuth with a passion for chemistry and a penchant for crime-solving—is tucked away in her laboratory, whipping up a concoction to ensnare Saint Nick. But she is soon distracted when a film crew arrives at Buckshaw, the de Luces’ decaying English estate, to shoot a movie starring the famed Phyllis Wyvern. Amid a raging blizzard, the entire village of Bishop’s Lacey gathers at Buckshaw to watch Wyvern perform, yet nobody is prepared for the evening’s shocking conclusion: a body found, past midnight, strangled to death with a length of film. But who among the assembled guests would stage such a chilling scene? As the storm worsens and the list of suspects grows, Flavia must use every ounce of sly wit at her disposal to ferret out a killer hidden in plain sight. (this synopsis was taken from Goodreads)
I enjoy art history immensely but am going to resist to telling you details about the John William Waterhouse painting shown above. All you really need to know is that it is a painting of the Lady of Shallot. And what does The Lady of Shallot have to do with my book review today? Have you ever read the Victorian ballad by Lord Alfred Tennyson about her? (Camelot? Sir Lancelot? ) The catchy title of Alan Bradley’s fourth Flavia de Luce mystery is a line from the poem. He always starts with a quote from a book or poem and you usually don’t know what in the heck it means until you are partway through or even finished with the book and then you suddenly have an ‘aha’ moment. I continue to be enamored with the Flavia de Luce series and this fourth book appears to be destined to receive many stars in its final rating, at least from me.