Thursday, October 10, 2013

The Weed that Strings the Hangman's Bag-Alan Bradley

Title: The Weed that Strings the Hangman's Bag
Author: Alan Bradley
Genre: Mystery
Format & Pages: Hardcover, 358
Publication: Delacorte Press, 2010
Source: Borrowed from Library
Rating:Heart Rater Original photo HeartRater_zps372caef9.pngHeart Rater Original photo HeartRater_zps372caef9.pngHeart Rater Original photo HeartRater_zps372caef9.png
“From Dagger Award-winning and internationally bestselling author Alan Bradley comes this utterly beguiling mystery starring one of fiction’s most remarkable sleuths: Flavia de Luce, a dangerously brilliant eleven-year-old with a passion for chemistry and a genius for solving murder. This time, Flavia finds herself untangling two deaths-separated by time but linked by the unlikeliest of threads.

Flavia thinks that her days of crime-solving in the bucolic English hamlet of Bishop’s Lacey are over-and then Rupert Porson has an unfortunate rendezvous with electricity. The beloved puppeteer had had his own strings sizzled, but who’d do such a thing, and why? For Flavia, the questions are intriguing enough to make her put aside her chemistry experiments and schemes of vengeance against her insufferable big sisters. Astride Gladys, her trusty bicycle, Flavis sets out from the de Luc’s crumbling family mansion in search of Bishop’s Lacey’s deadliest secrets.

Does the madwoman who lives in Gibbet Wood know more than she’s letting on? What of the vicar’s odd ministrations to the catatonic woman in the dovecote? Then there’s a German pilot obsessed with the Brontë sisters, a reproachful spinster aunt, and even a box of poisoned chocolates. Most troubling of all is Porson’s assistant, the charming but erratic Nialla. All clues point toward a suspicious death years earlier and a case the local constables can’t solve-without Flavia’s help. But in getting so close to who’s secretly pulling the strings of this dance of death, has our precocious heroine finally gotten in way over her head.”

The Weed that Strings the Hangman’s Bag is the second Flavia de Luce novel from author Alan Bradley. The first novel, The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie completely sold me on this precocious young lady with a penchant for poison. While this is the second in the series, I did not find it at all necessary to have read the first. While the first mystery was mentioned in passing, it in no way effected the plot of the second.

In this novel, Flavia once again turns her inquisitive mind to a mystery that has beset her quite little home of Bishop’s Lacey. What I really enjoy about this character is the fact that she is a brilliant chemist at the age of 11. She has snark, and when turned against by her sisters, she turns to poison. I found this quite remarkable, especially when it seems that chemistry seems to have run in the family.

On to the mystery. This happens to be the part of the novel that I struggled with the most. The murder does not actually occur until almost halfway through the book. I first I thought this was a delightfully creative way to keep the reader on their toes, but I found I really had to push myself to continue to read. It became sluggish. Once the murder actually occurred, though, the plot picked right back up. I could barely put the book down after that point.

While the beginning part of the story was a bit slow, I found that every detail and scene played a part in figuring out who the murder was and their motive. I wish I paid a bit more attention to this section. Even if you think that what is occurring is completely irrelevant, believe me, it’s not. Bradley has really shined when it comes to unobtrusively including important facts in the narrative. It really pays off in the ending. Wow, what a twist. I did not see it coming at all, but it fits perfectly. It was a really satisfying ending, in my opinion. So while the middle was a little rough, the book is something that I enjoyed overall.

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