18 FebThe Weed that Strings the Hangman’s Bag by Alan Bradley 4/52

I don’t read Mysteries these days.  Once upon a time, during my adolescent years, me and my friends devoured them.

Let me tell you, my close friends were great readers.  We would have sleepovers and spend quality time in silence, immersed in our Nancy Drew or Hardy Boys cases.

We were the perfect house-guests, quiet and out of the way.   The only time our parents saw us was during a trip to the kitchen for food.  Ideally, we could sneak past them, hoping that if they did see us, they wouldn’t break our reveries by asking an irrelevant question such as “How are you girls doing?” or “Are you having fun?”

Later in life, upon describing my wonderful, carefree reading days to a fellow book-lover, she responded enviously “Oh I wish I had friends like that!”

Back to mystery books.

Somewhere between Law and Order and CSI, mysteries became boring for me as I seem to solve the case quite early on.  Isn’t the culprit always the wife, husband, or child?  Too easy.

So why would I pick up The Weed that Strings the Hangman’s Bag?  Well for one, I saw the lovely cover.  Original.  The title is a lot more interesting than say “Death is Forever”.  I had already read Alan Bradley’s first novel starring Flavia de Luce, and I loved that one.

The heroine in these quirky mystery novels is the brilliant eleven-year-old Flavia.  She’s a genius when it comes to chemistry, and she uses this to help solve crimes in the English country village of Bishop’s Lacey.  Her mother died when she was very young, leaving her with two terribly mean sisters and a father who just isn’t there for her.

It’s 1950, and a famous puppet show duo, Rupert (who’s not really a nice man) and Nialla (who’s unwed and pregnant), shows up in town and gives the town folk a couple of performances of Jack and the Beanstalk.  During the second show Rupert comes crashing down, dead on the stage.

An investigation is launched and  Flavia sets out using the obscurity of being an eleven-year-old girl to gather up information from various people of the village.  She couples this intelligence with some experiments in her chemistry lab that lead her to the murderer.

One of my favorite charming features of this Flavia de Luce series is Gladys, Flavia’s trusty bicycle, which she depends upon to get her around town and hopefully back home in time before she gets in too much trouble.  The relationship between the girl and the bike is significant as Gladys can be relied upon while she certainly can’t say the same of her own family!

I was a bit surprised when I learned that Alan Bradley isn’t English.  He’s actually Canadian and certainly has a feel for what small-town English life might have been like.

I give this book 4 out of 5 stars and I definitely plan on reading the latest in the Flavia series, A Red Herring Without Mustard.

One Response to “The Weed that Strings the Hangman’s Bag by Alan Bradley 4/52”

  1. Andrea says:

    It needs to be said with a certain voice as well: Death…. is…. FOREVER!

    Great review Misty!! :-D

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