Saturday, February 26, 2011
THE WEED THAT STRINGS THE HANGMAN'S BAG - Book Review
Just finished the second book in the Flavia de Luce series, The Weed That Strings the Hangman's Bag by Alan Bradley. The first book, The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie, (click here for my review) introduced Flavia de Luce, brilliant amateur detective with a beyond-belief chemist's brain tucked inside her 11-year old head.
Of course, I am attracted to the setting: 1950 rural England, complete with a rough-around-the-edges country house (Buckshaw), a vicarage, a tea room, and two self-absorbed sisters. The story opens with the following, "I was lying dead in the churchyard. An hour had crept by since the mourners had said their last sad farewells." That opening may not sound funny but as soon as you get to know Flavia, you will be laughing at the little world she has created for herself.
This storyline is creepier than the first book. An abusive but famous puppeteer, the suspicious death years earlier of a small child, and a woman who has slowly gone mad. Of course, a murder takes place and Flavia is immersed in the investigation whether the local Inspector likes it or not.
Flavia thinks quite highly of herself and her skill with various poisons that she likes to dabble in, "Brains and morals have nothing to do with one another. Take myself, for instance: I am often thought of as being remarkably bright, and yet my brains, more often than not, are busily devising new and interesting ways of bringing my enemies to sudden, gagging, writhing, agonizing death." Harmless pranks (well, mostly harmless) fill-out the story.
It's a fun, quick read between more serious books. And unlike most series, you do not need to read the first book to understand the second book. But for a fun read, why not?