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Lunch » Tags » Books » Reviews » The Weed That Strings the Hangman's Bag: A Flavia de Luce Mystery (Flavia De Luce Mysteries) » User review

Girl Sleuth with a Penchant for Poison is BACK!

  • Mar 11, 2010
"Eleven-year-olds are supposed to be unreliable. We're past the age of being poppets: the age where people bend over and poke us in the tum with their fingers and make idiotic noises that sound like `boof-boof'--just the thought of which is enough to make me bring up my Bovril. And yet we're still not at the age where anyone ever mistakes us for a grown-up. The fact is, we're invisible--except when we choose not to be." - From The Weed That Strings the Hangman's Bag (Book 2 in the Flavia De Luce mystery series)

Back for a second delightful chemical concoction, precocious Flavia De Luce pokes her nose in another mystery when the Porson's Puppets van breaks down outside St. Tancred's church.

The Weed That Strings the Hangman's Bag, a much more pleasant brew than The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie (book 1 in the Flavia De Luce series), finds the plucky 11-year-old amateur sleuth (and chemist) embroiled in yet another mystery. This time, Flavia confronts a weeping, bruised redheaded woman draped over a grave and a polio-stricken TV puppeteer, both stranded at St. Tancred's.

As in book 1, Flavia experiments in her Great Uncle Tar's Victorian laboratory, finding surprising results as always (she begins with testing the crying woman's tears and moves on to a mysterious crop growing in Gibbet Wood's clearing). And, of course, no Flavia de Luce mystery would be complete without her using some odious chemical compound to foil one of her nasty sisters...

When someone ends up fried in the middle of a special, live Porson's Puppets show of Jack and the Beanstalk at St. Tancred's, Flavia knows it wasn't an accident--and neither does Dogger or the police that happen to be in attendance. When Inspector Hewitt questions Flavia (along with the other performance attendees) and insults her by saying it was "probably past her bedtime", she decides that two can play that game ("The nerve of the man!")--and withholds vital information.

The audience was *already* unsettled since the wooden puppet Jack looks just like the dead 5-year old Robin Ingleby, a boy found hanging in Gibbet Wood several years before. But when the show ends with a gruesome shock and the lights go out...

Mixing in a surprise visit from imposing Aunt Felicity, father's financial worries (they may lose Buckshaw, the family home), and increasingly cruel siblings Ophelia and Daphne, The Weed That Strings the Hangman's Bag paints a much more sympathetic portrait of a lonely Flavia than book 1.

In addition, the multiple mysteries in book 2 are far more engrossing than the boring (to me) central plot of book 1 (philately!), with more compelling, colorful characters to boot. In fact, I enjoyed this book so much, I couldn't wait to steal aside time to read it, often staying up well-past my intended bedtime!

If you enjoy old-fashioned detective mysteries, the Flavia de Luce series brings 1950s England to life with a plucky, resourceful, lethally intelligent heroine. I recommend reading book 1, The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie, to become familiar with the setting, recurring characters and integral back-story (such as Flavia's mother's death in Tibet).

However, it's book 2, The Weed That Strings the Hangman's Bag that sparkles with author Alan Bradley's fine writing, quirky characters (Mad Meg!) and absorbing plot. I'm eagerly anticipating book 3 in the Flavia de Luce mystery series; well done, Mr. Bradley!

-- Janet Boyer, author of Back in Time Tarot

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More The Weed That Strings the Hang... reviews
review by . February 11, 2010
         First, my thanks to the Amazon Vine Review program for both offering and sending me this book.      Second in the series featuring young Flavia de Luce, The Weed that Strings the Hangman's Bag has our young heroine embroiled in yet another sticky situation or two, trying to uncover the identity of a murderer who dared do the deed in the middle of a performance of Jack the Beanstalk at the village church. As it just so happens, Flavia and …
review by . February 02, 2010
It's always so refreshing to read a book that is not the typical cookie-cutter stuff. One with a main character who is just plain, old-fashioned fun and a story that keeps you guessing. As with his first novel, "The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie", Alan Bradley has such a story here.    The second book in a (reported) six-book series, "The Weed That Strings the Hangman's Bag" carries on a short while after Sweetness. Flavia de Luce is 11, still extremely precocious, and still …
review by . January 28, 2010
This second installment of the series is even more satisfying than the first; Flavia de Luce is without a doubt the most entertaining sleuth to make an appearance in decades. In this story, Flavia finds herself embroiled in the mysterious death of visiting puppeteer Rupert Porson, a BBC personality marooned in Bishop's Lacy by the breakdown of his van. As Flavia learns more about Rupert's many women, she is haunted as well by the bizarre hanging death of five year-old Robin Ingleby some years before.  &nb …
review by . January 26, 2010
Book 2 in the Flavia de Luce Mystery Series
“Eleven-year-olds are supposed to be unreliable. We’re past the age of being poppets: the age where people bend over and poke us in the tum with their fingers and make idiotic noises that sond like ‘boof-boof’—just the thought of which is enough to make me bring up my Bovril. And yet we’re still not at the age where anyone ever mistakes us for a grown-up. The fact is, we’re invisible—except when we choose not to be.” – From The Weed That …
About the reviewer
Janet Boyer ()
Ranked #199
Author of The Back in Time Tarot BookandTarot in Reverse. Co-creator of theSnowlandDeck. Amazon.com Hall ofFame/ VineReviewer; Freelance Writer/Reviewer; Blogger; Professional Tarot Reader/Teacher; Lover … more
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About this book


Amazon Exclusive: An Essay by Alan Bradley

Flavia de Luce walked into my life one winter day, parked herself on a campstool, and refused to be budged.

It took me quite a while to realize that she wasn’t even faintly interested in the mystery novel I was attempting to write at the time: the one into which she had wandered. I found out quickly enough that Flavia wanted her own book--and that was that.

And it was just the beginning. There were still more problems to come.

The first was this: Flavia lived in 1950, while I was writing about her in 2006 and 2007.

As an author, it’s not as easy as you might think projecting--and keeping--your mind in a different century from your body--not without forever being yanked back into the present by everyday annoyances such as frozen water pipes, expiring license plates, incessantly barking dogs, and the need to shop for food.

Another problem was this: I lived on Canada’s west coast, where the clocks are set to Pacific Time, while Flavia lived in Bishop’s Lacey, England, which is on Greenwich Mean Time--a difference of nine hours. In practical terms, this meant that Flavia was raring to go every day just as I was getting ready for bed. Because there was no point in either of us being tired and cranky, we finally managed to work out a compromise in which I began awakening at 4:00 a.m. to write, while Flavia (rather impatiently) hung around until after lunch, waiting for me to show up.

As The Sweetness at ...

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ISBN-10: 0385342314
ISBN-13: 978-0385342315
Author: Alan Bradley
Publisher: Delacorte Press

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