The Weed That Strings the Hangman's Bag by Alan Bradley
|The Weed That Strings the Hangman's Bag by Alan Bradley|
|Reviewer: Sue Magee|
|Summary: The second book in Alan Bradley's Flavia de Luce series lives up to expectation and reads well as a stand alone or as part of the series. Recommended|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 352||Date: April 2010|
|External links: Author's website|
Bishop's Lacey, the closest village to Buckshaw, the de Luce family home, was the traditional sleepy English village, particularly in the nineteen fifties when this story is set. The arrival of a travelling puppet show causes some excitement, although it has to be admitted that the show is there because the van broke down rather than because there was an intention to stage a performance. There's a need to raise money for the repair of the van so Rupert Porson, famed puppeteer from the BBC, agrees to put on two shows in the village hall. There is, of course, a grisly murder.
We first met our precocious sleuth - eleven-year-old Flavia de Luce in The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie but don't be put off if you haven't read that yet - it's a pleasure still to come. There are currently four books in the series and each reads well as a stand alone or as part of the series. You might have minor pieces of information if you read the books out of order, but there are no plot spoilers. Financial matters have not improved for the de Luce family - the stately home is still crumbling - and the father of the three girls is still distant and engaged only with his stamp collection.
As with all the books you will need to suspend disbelief that an eleven-year-old girl could act in the way that she does - think in terms of the brain of a very bright twenty-five-year old and then do a transplant - but it is worth the effort. Normally detective fiction where a a member of the public solves the crime whilst the police plod along in their wake annoy the hell out of me. Flavia de Luce is one of the few exceptions I'm prepared to make and that's because it's so well and so wittily written.
England in the nineteen fifties is brilliantly evoked (I know - I was there at the time) but what is amazing is that Canadian Alan Bradley hadn't visited the country until he received a prize for the first book in the series. Add to this a great supporting cast of characters (I can't think of a weak one) and a well-worked plot and you've got a book that's well-worth reading.
Begin with the first book in the series if you are methodical. (You are? You'll love Flavia.) But don't worry if you can only lay hands on A Red Herring Without Mustard or I Am Half-Sick of Shadows. They're all well-worth reading.
You can read more book reviews or buy The Weed That Strings the Hangman's Bag by Alan Bradley at Amazon.co.uk
You can read more book reviews or buy The Weed That Strings the Hangman's Bag by Alan Bradley at Amazon.com.
Like to comment on this review?
Just send us an email and we'll put the best up on the site.