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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

In my next life, I want to be Flavia deLuce

  • Feb 11, 2010
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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 her family, including Aunt Felicity (a new arrival to this series) are in the audience watching as the death occurs. Flavia knows right away that the death wasn't natural, as does the family gardener and general man-about-the-house Dogger, and she sets about finding the killer.  But that's not all that Flavia knows, and as she uses her observations to help guide her, other mysteries, long kept hidden in the little village of Bishop's Lacey, begin to be revealed, perhaps not to some people's liking.

Once again Alan Bradley has done a fantastic job relating the story of Flavia deLuce, that child genius who was first introduced in his first novel, The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie. Bradley has not let up on his excellent writing, indeed, in this novel, the characters all become more real, more fleshed out, and he adds some new and quirky characters into the village of Bishop's Lacey.  The mystery element of this novel is much stronger and runs deeper than in the first novel, and the reader finds himself or herself this time with several suspects from which to choose, all with their own private motives for murder.  But once again, the strength isn't so much in the mystery, but rather in the other elements of the novel. For example, there's the  struggle of Haviland deLuce (Flavia's father) to keep the family home, Buckshaw.  There's also the introduction of a new character, Dieter, a former German POW working on a farm in the countryside, and how he came to be shot down over England during the war.  Then there's Flavia's deep-seated needed to find out more about her mother, dead since she was a very small child.  And Bradley hits on the exploitation of things that maybe should have been a bit more private by television producers for Auntie, the inside name for the BBC.

Let me just say that  many people complained about the lack of a true mystery plotline in the first novel of the series, or thought that the whole mystery thing was flat, so wouldn't be at all interested in reading any sequels.  Balderdash. What did you want? A young Nancy Drew? You're missing the point.  If you can just sit back and relax, and read around the mystery and think about what you're reading, you'll discover that there is more to these books than some precocious child playing Holmes here.  Bradley's captured a slice of time past and he does it well and most intelligently.  I can very highly recommend this novel, and now I'm just sad that I have to wait a year or so for the next one.

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More The Weed That Strings the Hang... reviews
review by . March 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 …
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 …
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Nancy Oakes ()
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Hi! I'm a very avid reader and book collector and I love to cook. Aside from my family, reading and cooking are my two passions in life. I'm here on Lunch.com because I am looking for people with similar … more
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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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