Wednesday, April 21, 2010


"The Weed That Strings The Hangman's Bag" is the second in Alan Bradley's Flavia deLuce mysteries. I reviewed the first book in the series, "The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie" here:

In that review, I provided a lot of background information on this 11-year-old sleuth, her family and neighbors in the English countryside and village of Bishop's Lacey. In this book, Flavia has to figure out who killed beloved TV personality and puppeteer Rupert Porson, electrocuted as he puts on a puppet show. His presence in Bishop's Lacey, it turns out, is connected to a cold case, the hanging of a young boy, so Flavia ends up investigating both deaths. (The strange title of the book refers to a hanging in the poem "Sir Walter Raleigh to His Son.")

I was a tiny bit disappointed in "The Weed, etc." for several reasons:

1. I wanted to see more of the character of Nialla, Porson's "wife".
2. Several red herrings as to the murderer were tossed about, one pointing toward the vicar, which was too ridiculous to believe.
3. There wasn't as much interaction between Flavia and the local detective, Inspector Hewitt. In the first book it was fun to see the sparring between amateur and experienced detective.
4. At no time was Flavia in peril (which is a good thing if you are Flavia), as opposed to the nail-biting suspense caused by the threat to Flavia's life in Book 1.

Despite all this, it was still a very good book. As another reviewer put it, there is such period (1950s) detail and Flavia such an interesting character one can't help being intrigued. I will definitely look for the third book in the Flavia deLuce series.

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