THE NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER
Flavia de Luce, the twelve-year-old chemist and amateur detective is eager to turn professional. She and her father's valet, Dogger, have founded a detective agency, Arthur Dogger & Associates, and unexpectedly cut into their first case during the revelry at her sister Ophelia's wedding reception.
After an eventful ceremony with a missing best man and spontaneous ventriloquist act, spirits are high as Feely and her new husband head for the towering and beautifully iced wedding cake. But as Feely slices into the first piece, a scream rings out - the bridal cake contains a severed human finger.
Delighted, Flavia wraps the finger in a napkin and whisks it away to her chemical laboratory. By studying the embalmed skin, the indentation of a ring, and the slope of the fingernail, she'll not only be able to determine the identity of the victim - but also point a finger at a killer.
A ghoulish question is at the heart of Bradley's excellent 10th Flavia de Luce novel set in 1950s England (after 2018's The Grave's a Fine and Private Place): "How had an embalmed finger found its way from the hand of a dead woman in a Surrey cemetery into the heart of a wedding cake at Buckshaw?" Though only in her early teens, chemistry prodigy Flavia has formed a private detective agency with Arthur Dogger, her late father's valet, at the family estate of Buckshaw. The discovery at her sister Ophelia's wedding of the severed digit which turns out to have come from the corpse of a guitar impresario presents Flavia and Dogger with her first case. Meanwhile, the sleuths get their first client when Anastasia Prill asks for their help in recovering some sensitive stolen letters relating to her father's homeopathic practice, an inquiry that turns into a homicide investigation. Bradley, who has few peers at combining fair-play clueing with humor and has fun mocking genre conventions, shows no sign of running out of ideas.