Wednesday, September 19, 2012
The Weed that Strings the Hangman's Bag
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?
My Rating: ****
This is a sequel to The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie, a book you absolutely must read if you like any kind of murder mystery at all, and once again Flavia de Luce delivers!
It took me a while to get to this sequel, but I don't think I'll wait quite so long to read the third book. Flavia. Oh Flavia. She is such a ridiculously enjoyable narrator, I don't think I could rave about her enough to do her justice. She is a complete genius - practically Sherlock level - but she's also a bit of a mad scientist and you do not want to get on her bad side. Her constant feud with her sisters is so hilarious, and I don't know why they mess with her, considering Flavia's chemistry skills and obsession with poison!
I love the way Flavia manipulates people without their knowledge and how she can get away with all sorts of ridiculous things and poking and prying into people's lives, just because she can pull off innocent 10 year-old. I also love that she does NOT fool Dogger or Inspector Hewitt. Another thing I really enjoy is the small town setting of Bishop's Lacy and the way everyone knows everything about everyone. It's the perfect setting for mystery.
Flavia really is the star attraction here. The story was pretty good, but not quite as engrossing or shocking as the first book's. It hardly mattered, like I said, because Flavia is so delightful. I laughed and snorted the whole way through. I often read while running, but that did not go so well while reading this because my breathing groove kept getting thrown off while I paused to laugh out loud.
I really enjoy these. Read if you love a good murder mystery, a precocious heroine, and an idyllic English country setting.
And now, off to request The Red Herring Without Mustard from the library!