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Young adult mystery fans, have you met Flavia de Luce yet?

Nancy Drew, Miss Marple, Perry Mason, Sherlock Holmes. These were the series sleuths who lined my young adult bookshelf. If you are a young adult or know one who enjoys reading books by mystery writers like Carolyn Keene, Donald J. Sobol, Agatha Christie, Erle Stanley Gardiner or Arthur Conan Doyle, let me introduce you to a relatively new series sleuth that will have you reading your way through her series faster than author Alan Bradley can write the books.
Flavia de Luce (FLAY’-vee-ah duh-LOOSE) has all the traits of a good sleuth — she is smart, determined, observant and curious. She is also a well-written character that captures your attention and will appeal to both male and female readers. At 11 years old, Flavia is largely unsupervised and this freedom is a blessing and a curse. A self-taught chemist with a passion for poisons, she spends most of her free time in the Victorian era chemistry lab in an abandoned wing of Buckshaw, the decaying English Manor house where she lives. When not experimenting in her lab, she is roaming the English countryside around the village of Bishop’s Lacey on Gladys, her “ancient BSA” bicycle.
Flavia’s mother died when she was young and she currently lives with her widowed father, two pesky older sisters and a loyal butler. Flavia regularly matches wits with the local constabulary in solving the strange deaths that so often happen in those small, seemingly unexciting English villages. As a younger sister, she experiences all the teasing, taunting and ignoring strategies older siblings often use to make life in general miserable for the youngest child. Bradley does an excellent job of giving us a character that behaves much older than her years and seems to have left the trappings of childhood behind but at days end is still a child learning the lessons of youth.
The series is set in England in the 1950s. It is not necessary to read the titles in order but readers will get more out of the series if they are able to read them sequentially. The first book in the series, “The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie,” has Flavia investigating a murder that happens on the grounds of Buckshaw. In Flavia’s words “I wish I could say I was afraid, but I wasn’t. Quite the contrary. This was by far the most interesting thing that had ever happened to me in my entire life.” The series continues with “The Weed That Strings the Hangman’s Bag,” “Red Herring without Mustard,” “Speaking From Among the Bones,” “I Am Half Sick of Shadows” and “Dead in Their Vaulted Arches.”
The library has all titles available in hard copy within the adult fiction collection (under Bradley).
The North Carolina Digital Library has all titles in the series available as eBooks and Audio books. You can access the NC Digital Library through the library’s website and can create a login using your library card. From the point of sign on, you will follow directions based on the type of electronic device you will be using. If, like Flavia, heaven to you is “a place where the library is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week” then I encourage you to experience this series in electronic format.
Summer movie series — The library offers movie night every Tuesday at 6:30 p.m. at RPL headquarters in Salisbury and at South Rowan Regional at 2 p.m. Wednesdays. Movies are free and all ages are welcome. Children should be accompanied by an adult. Free popcorn and lemonade.
At headquarters: this Tuesday, “Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs” (PG).
At South Regional (China Grove): this Wednesday, “Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow” (PG).
Summer reading for children — The library invites children to celebrate science and reading with Fizz, Boom, Read. Prizes for every 5, 10, 15 and 20 hours read with door prizes given at the school-aged programs.
Weekly programs end July 31. RPL staff will be on hand to entertain the youngest participants and professional performers will help captivate the school-age children. Family programs will again be offered at Cleveland Town Hall and reading hours can be tracked there at the time of the program.
This week’s program is Lee Street Theatre, Fizz, Boom, Read Extravaganza. For a complete schedule of programs, go to the library website, www.rowanpubliclibrary.org or call your closest location: Headquarters, 704-216-8234; South, 704-216-7728; East, 704-216-7842.
Teen summer reading: Program ends July 31. This week’s program is Blow Out Blast and prize raffle, end of summer celebration at South Rowan Regional on Thursday, 3:30–5 p.m.
Book Bites Club: South Regional (only), Tuesday, 6:30 p.m., “The Help,” by Kathryn Stockett. Book discussion groups for adults and children meet the last Tuesday of each month. The group is open to the public and anyone is free to join at any time. There is a discussion of the book, as well as light refreshments at each meeting. For more information, please call 704-216-8229.
Displays for July: headquarters, doll society; South, Rowan Doll Society by Gayle Hansen; East, flowers by Helen Holland.
Literacy: Call the Rowan County Literacy Council at 704-216-8266 for more information on teaching or receiving literacy tutoring for English speakers or for those for whom English is a second language.

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