Saturday, April 10, 2010

The Weed that Strings the Hangman's Bag - Alan Bradley

Summary: From Dagger Award–winning and internationally bestselling author Alan Bradley comes this utterly beguiling mystery starring one of fiction’s most remarkable sleuths: Flavia de Luce, a dangerously brilliant eleven-year-old with a passion for chemistry and a genius for solving murders. This time, Flavia finds herself untangling two deaths—separated by time but linked by the unlikeliest of threads.

Flavia thinks that her days of crime-solving in the bucolic English hamlet of Bishop’s Lacy are over—and then Rupert Porson has an unfortunate rendezvous with electricity. The beloved puppeteer has had his own strings sizzled, but who’d do such a thing and why? For Flavia, the questions are intriguing enough to make her put aside her chemistry experiments and schemes of vengeance against her insufferable big sisters. Astride Gladys, her trusty bicycle, Flavia sets out from the de Luces’ crumbling family mansion in search of Bishop’s Lacey’s deadliest secrets.

Does the madwoman who lives in Gibbet Wood know more than she’s letting on? What of the vicar’s odd ministrations to the catatonic woman in the dovecote? Then there’s a German pilot obsessed with the Brontë sisters, a reproachful spinster aunt, and even a box of poisoned chocolates. Most troubling of all is Porson’s assistant, the charming but erratic Nialla. All clues point toward a suspicious death years earlier and a case the local constables can’t solve—without Flavia’s help. But in getting so close to who’s secretly pulling the strings of this dance of death, has our precocious heroine finally gotten in way over her head?
Summary from the book, cover photo from

My Review: Welcome back Flavia de Luce. With a puppeteer meeting a tragic end during the middle of a performance, our 11-year-old heroine is back to using her deductive reasoning skills as well as her love for chemistry to solve the case. The list of suspects is long and time is not on her side. How will she solve the case before the murderer strikes again and before the wrong suspect is arrested?

Beware this story will grab you from the opening page and will not loosen it's grip until the end. It is a joy to ride along with Flavia as she climbs aboard her trusted bicycle, Gladyis, in search of evidence. In the midst of it all she must deal with her wacky family, especially the relentless taunting from her older sisters.

While this novel definitely is strong enough to stand on it's own one gets a better feel for Flavia's character and the De Luce family dynamic if you read The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie beforehand. This is the second in a series of 6 Flavia novels that have been contracted. I am eagerly awaiting the next, A Red Herring Without Mustard, due out early next year.

For more information on this series visit

My Rating: 4.25 Stars, I liked it almost as much as the first

To sum it up: A strong sequel to very enjoyable mystery series suitable for both teens and adults.

1 comment:

gbuegge said...

I adore this series, as well as Flavia! Who could resist this 11 year-old chemist/sleuth?


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