Flavia is nearly eleven years old and lives in rural England with her father and two sisters, Daphne and Ophelia (great names, I KNOW!) during the early 1950's. Flavia's father is a devoted philatelist (stamp collector--just one of the perks of the book is the amazing vocabulary readers can learn). Her sisters are the typical older sisters who are determine to make Flavia believe she is adopted. Flavia's mother was killed in an accident shortly after Flavia's birth. Even though Flavia doesn't have any memories of the beloved Harriet, she certainly feels the absence of what she never had.
Buckshaw, the name of the de Luce home, is surrounded by a small community, that despite it's seemingly isolated nature certainly experiences lots of excitement. During the series, Flavia solves a murders using what every girl should- CHEMISTRY! You see, Flavia spends most of her time in the abandon chemistry lab inside her home. She is a self-made chemist and conducts experiments to solve her mysteries and sometimes to give her sisters skin problems. It's brilliant. She does everything from sneak around to gather samples to catch a killer to injecting chocolates with vomit inducing poisons. Ahhhh, Flavia, you are my hero.
In my experience, these books are quite underappreciated. They are so smartly funny! Flavia insults her sisters with such flair, and she has even named her bicycle Gladys. Seriously- amazing. The first three books are available now; and the fourth installment, I am Half-Sick of Shadows, will be released on November 1, 2011. So, you see, you have plenty of time to catch up before the new book is released. I particularly love the stocking cap on the skeleton on the cover. Are you kidding me? That is awesome.