Tuesday, February 23, 2010

"The Weed That Strings The Hangman's Bag: A Flavia De Luce Mystery" by Alan Bradley

A delightful mystery with a preternaturally precocious protagonist! This is the second in the Flavia De Luce series. I had started listening to the audiobook version of "The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie" before this book arrived and decided not to finish the first but just jump into the second. I probably missed some details of the family background but it did not limit my enjoyment of the book.

The setting is a small village in post-WW2 England and it is written in first  person narrated by the young protagonist. Flavia De Luce is 12 and the youngest of 3 sisters; their mother died when she was quite young. Her older sisters torment her as only older sisters can do – but even more so because their father is generally preoccupied with other things. Although Flavia is young, this is not a Nancy Drew-type mystery; it is definitely written more for adults than children. Flavia is a chemist (quite accomplished for one so young) and fascinated by poison and poisoners. She uses this knowledge against her sisters in particularly devious ways. She is outwardly polite to the adults she encounters but the politeness is often her cover to pump them for information.  She is particularly determined that the adults (the police in particular) are not going to keep her from solving the murder mystery.

There is a mystery wrapped up in the murder mystery and it was enjoyable to read about village life and learn “who done it.” Normally I prefer contemporary thrillers to period mysteries but I have become a fan of this series and will go back and finish the first book and wait patiently for the next in the series.

If you enjoy mysteries, put this series on your "must read" list.

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