Flavia’s family greatly extends the parameters of the word, dysfunction. The novel begins with her being tied up and dumped in a seldom-visited closet by her two sisters, Ophelia and Daphne.
Spare little sorrow for the victim, however, because the reader quickly learns that Flavia, a budding - no, perhaps “blooming” would be a more appropriate word - chemist has distilled poison ivy into a liquid and injected some into Ophelia’s lipstick.
Much of the charm of this novel comes from Flavia’s descriptions, particularly those of her relationship with her unemotional, distant father. At one point she says, “Father stared at me with the sad kind of look the worm must give the early bird the instant before its beak snaps shut.”
Flavia, an ardent reader, makes literary references that are good for a laugh. The family handyman, “... suddenly appeared above me on the landing with a candle holder that might have been snapped up at an estate sale at Manderley.” Digger, the handyman, is no Mrs. Danvers, and Flavia has ten times the chutzpa of Rebecca, but the story does take place in an old house with mysterious rooms.
There is a crime which Flavia’s father did or did not commit in his youth. Flavia, travels around town on a reconditioned bike named Gladys trying to determine if her father is truly guilty. In her meanderings, she irritates a great many people and brings to light information which many folks hoped would never appear again. The reader gets a taste of what’s to come when, early in the novel, Flavia finds a body and her reaction is, “This was by far the most interesting thing that had ever happened to me in my entire life.”
To learn more about this and other books, visit the Boulder City Library at 701 Adams Boulevard, 293-1281, www.bouldercitylibrary.org