Posts tagged ‘alan bradley’

March 10, 2011

Bookbyte: A Red Herring Without Mustard

Red HerringFlavia de Luce is one of the most witty and memorable characters in fiction today. She hit the scene in 2009 in her debut novel, The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie. Alan Bradley manages to make believable an eleven-year-old chemistry genius with passion for poison and a vocabulary beyond her years. A lesser author would make her precocious and cartoonish, but brought alive by Bradley’s words, Flavia looks out at you from the the pages, a real girl with wide eyes filled with curiosity.

Her latest adventure, A Red Herring Without Mustard, takes place in the same summer as both Pie and the impeccable follow-up mystery, The Weed that Strings the Hangman’s Bag. That’s a lot of murder in one season in the fictional 1950s English village of Bishop’s Lacey. Flavia runs the risk of becoming a pre-teen Jessica Fletcher if the bodies keep dropping at this rate.

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January 27, 2011

Bookbyte: The Weed That Strings the Hangman’s Bag

A Red Herring Without Mustard

A Red Herring Without Mustard

Alan Bradley’s latest Flavia de Luce mystery, A Red Herring Without Mustard, hits bookshelves on Feb. 8. While eagerly anticipating the latest installment in this exciting new series, I recommend Bradley’s previous Flavia mystery, The Weed That Strings the Hangman’s Bag, and not just because it has a snappier title.

Flavia de Luce hit the literary scene in 2009 with The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie. Bradley, a Canadian, has created a fresh, smart character and a living, breathing little world.

In Bag,¬†Flavia, an eleven-year-old chemistry enthusiast, lives in the 1950s English town of Bishop’s Lacey. With the help of her trusty bicycle, Gladys, Flavia tries to solve the murder of a famous puppeteer who has been electrocuted on-stage. Flavia’s sharp tongue tends to get her into more trouble than the average eleven-year-old roaming the English countryside might find herself in, but her smarts and knowledge of poisons always gets her out.

Bradley’s writing is witty and the mystery moves at a brisk place. Bag takes Flavia to darker places than Pie does, but the result is a stronger, more compelling work than Bradley’s debut. Here’s hoping Flavia’s third outing is even stronger.

— Chance