The Dead in Their Vaulted Arches: A Flavia de Luce Novel

It's a somber group gathered at the Buckshaw Halt station platform to meet the coffin of the long-missing Harriet de Luce, but as has been the case in Alan Bradley's five previous Flavia de Luce novels, more than one drama unfolds in The Dead in Their Vaulted Arches as the train arrives.

Eleven-year-old Flavia never knew her mother, who disappeared in a Himalayan avalanche in the early 1940s, when the girl sleuth was still a baby. The return of Harriet's body heightens the family's mourning and will likely finalize the loss of crumbling Buckshaw Manor. Despite her sorrow, however, Flavia's keen inquisitiveness leads her to action.

Who was the tall stranger who fell to his death beneath the train? What was the meaning of the cryptic message he whispered to Flavia? Can she resurrect her mother using her savvy chemistry skills? And what should she do with Harriet's will, discovered when she pried open the sealed coffin?

Flavia is skeptical of the extended de Luce family members who arrive for the funeral, and relies on the ever-faithful Dogger, her father's World War II comrade and loyal Buckshaw staffer, and the local villagers for support. But who is the pilot who swoops onto the estate in her mother's beloved aeroplane? And why was Winston Churchill at the station to honor Harriet? Can it be Flavia's destiny to carry on the de Luce legend?

In another tidy but cliffhanger ending, all is revealed and curiosity piqued for the adventures awaiting Flavia in book seven. --Cheryl Krocker McKeon, bookseller, Book Passage, San Francisco

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