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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An excellent read!
Right from the very first line I was hooked on this book. "I was lying dead in the churchyard" is a line that is guaranteed to grab the attention of the reader. The " deceased" Flavia De Luce is a wonderful creation, a young lady who is both a great detective and a mad scientist with a worrying fondness for poisons. Flavia is mature beyond her years with a brilliant...
Published on 30 Dec. 2010 by Mrs. Susan J. Hindes

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Sweet
Just the thing for the jaded crime novel enthusiast. A bright and quirky protagonist, and a sleepy setting: there's a lovely innocence about this book despite the very real crime at the centre of the tale. I hope we get the chance to grow up with Flavia de Luce as we have done with Harry Potter. Wonderful
Published on 6 Sept. 2010 by liveenl


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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An excellent read!, 30 Dec. 2010
By 
Mrs. Susan J. Hindes (Wales) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
Right from the very first line I was hooked on this book. "I was lying dead in the churchyard" is a line that is guaranteed to grab the attention of the reader. The " deceased" Flavia De Luce is a wonderful creation, a young lady who is both a great detective and a mad scientist with a worrying fondness for poisons. Flavia is mature beyond her years with a brilliant nack for seeing right through people. The plot revolves around the arrival of a famous tv star Rupert Porson and his young lady friend Nialla. They bring with them a travelling puppet show which Rupert is very proud of, making all the puppets, sets, lighting and sound systems. Initially Flavia takes an interest in Nialla, discovering Nialla's secret thanks to interesting chemical works in the lab of her late uncle. Flavia lives with her father and two sisters, the latter two making sure that Flavia's life is not so comfy.

During a much anticipated performance of Jack and the Beanstalk, the locals notice the likeness of one puppet's face to that of a dead child from the villages past. During the performance, tragedy strikes and a death occurs in a shocking way. During her investigations, Flavia delves into the past histories of the village she has grown up in, with some amazing revelations. A cunning and sometimes devious young lady, she gets answers that the police can't and in her round about way solves the murder. There are some great comedy moments in the book as well, and some very interesting information, for instance, that in the eyes of Flavia Emma Bovary is the best documented death from poison in literature. The saga with the chocolate box had me smiling especially at the end where we are left to imagine the stench Flavia created.

All in all an excellent read, one that had me captivated. A page turner in every way, so dont expect to do anything else while you slip into the covers of this book. A comfy seat, a nice box of chocolates ( well at the begining at any rate) and a few hours to lose yourself is just what you need when you settle down to read this.

10/10 from me.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Absolutely 5 glowing stars!, 24 Mar. 2010
Flavia de Luce is back and better than ever. Actually, I can say that I enjoyed this second book even more than the first The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie because the mystery was very good in this second novel and Flavia really had to use her powers of deductive reasoning to find the culprit and answer all the questions raised.

Something as simple as the breakdown of a van was the catalyst for involving the people of the hamlet of Bishop's Lacy in murder. This second story in the series involves the entire population of the village when the famous puppeteer agrees to put on a show in the church hall to pay the expenses for fixing his van. The world of Flavia de Luce in 1950's England is once more brought brilliantly to life by Alan Bradley. All of the characters we met were very interesting for me and the sheer number introduced made the solving of this mystery very much harder than in the first novel. There were hidden things going on in the background of this small community which came to light as Flavia and the police began to investigate who had committed this murder.

I really enjoy the way Bradley has written the character of Flavia here. There is more humor in this book than in the first and it really solidified my liking for Flavia as a person. In all honesty I must say that I had never noticed before how many of the worlds most infamous (or should that be famous?) poisoners had names beginning with the letter "C". Now that's the kind of interactions Bradley makes his character have with the reader that allows me to think that Flavia could walk into this room right now and I could hold a conversation with her. She and I would get along just fine. Mysteries are a passion of mine also, and poison has always been my "weapon of choice", so to speak. She could run rings around me when it comes to knowledge of chemistry and all it's wonders, but otherwise, she's your average highly intelligent 11 year old girl who solves murder mysteries without benefit of all the information the police have.

In all seriousness, there is nothing "average" about this book. Flavia is a delight, the pages are filled with both humor and pathos, the mystery is well constructed and multi-layered, and the author has a way of capturing my imagination so that I feel totally involved and drawn into the story. Now the only question is how long we have to wait for the third book. I'm also of the opinion that if this author starts a completely different series, I will be right there waiting to buy my copy. Yes, he's that good.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Sweet, 6 Sept. 2010
Just the thing for the jaded crime novel enthusiast. A bright and quirky protagonist, and a sleepy setting: there's a lovely innocence about this book despite the very real crime at the centre of the tale. I hope we get the chance to grow up with Flavia de Luce as we have done with Harry Potter. Wonderful
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Most Ingenious Killer Of All Times, 26 Aug. 2010
By 
Giacinto Poli "letseewhatyoucando" (Molfetta, BA Italy) - See all my reviews
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I thought The Sweetness At The Bottom Of The Pie was the best classic thrilling story which modern world could have ever given us: I was wrong. The Weed That Strings The Hangman's Bag is totally captivating, thrilling, a book you won't ABSOLUTELY be able to put down. I've never been so interested in a mistery like this. It's very particular, (for instance the murder is perpetrated in the middle of the book, not at the beginning as you could expect, when you're already fond of all the characters including, unfortunately, the victim) and even the characters are woundrously detailed. If you love thrilling mystery stories you CANNOT miss it. Trust me. You won't be disappointed.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars PULLING THE STRINGS, 21 Jun. 2012
By 
Red Rock Bookworm (St. George Utah USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Weed That Strings the Hangman's Bag (FLAVIA DE LUCE MYSTERY) (Paperback)
Flavia de Luce rides again. Aboard her trusty bicycle "Gladys" the eleven year old sleuth/aspiring chemist is off on another adventure. Her latest escapade is precipitated by a chance meeting in the local churchyard with a young woman named Nialla, assistant to a relatively famous television puppeteer named Rupert Porson. Rupert, it seems, has some ties with at least one of the local village residents and when the vicar extends an invitation to Rupert and Nialla to perform their puppet show for the locals, the mystery begins. As with Alan Bradley's first novel,THE SWEETNESS AT THE BOTTOM OF THE PIE, this story also takes place in the small English village of Bishop's Lacy circa 1950. Once again, suspicious deaths are the order of the day and Flavia takes center stage in this unusual who-dunnit.

Flavia's family still resides in the crumbling mansion known as Buckshaw. Still present are the banes of Flavias young life, her sisters, seventeen year old Ophelia and thirteen year old Daphne, who take gleeful pleasure in taunting Flavia with tales of her unwanted birth and/or adoption and, as usual, Flavia continues to plot delicious and devious ways to avenge herself on her tormenters (her latest attempt at "getting even" involves a box of candy and noxious odors). The unconventional family is rounded out by Flavia's introverted philetalist father and her eccentric, outspoken visiting Aunt Felicity. Although Flavia's reaction to her sisters represents the typical reaction of an 11 year old to teasing, her powers of deductive reasoning, her knowledge of chemistry and her wild imagination definitely place her far beyond her chronological years.

To enjoy this book, please do not attempt to apply logic when it comes to Flavia's amazing and unbelievable intelligence. Just think of Flavia as wonderful wine ......you don't know how it's made, but the flavor is full and pleasing so you just enjoy it.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Punch and Flavia, 23 Aug. 2011
By 
Jo D'Arcy (Portsmouth, UK) - See all my reviews
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What do you get if you mix any of the Enid Blyton mystery solving children, with a dash of the country lady that is Miss Marple, well Flavia de Luce of course! Expect that with Flavia there is also a degree of suffering in her childhood which is perhaps not reflected in any of the aforementioned characters.

Flavia is back in the second of Alan Bradley's books The Weed that Strings the Hangman's Bag. She still has to put up with her older sisters; Daffy with her nose permanently in a book and Feely with her nose permanently at a mirror. Neither of the sisters seems to have much care for Flavia and they chip away at a rather fragile Flavia who despite her 11 years is still somewhat innocent of the world.
"Although I had a sketchy idea of what went on between two people having an affair, I did not actually know the precise mechanical details".
Everything in Flavia's mind can be broken down into details, into its basic elements and she continues to seek solace in her laboratory where she experiments and learns about poisons that probably most poisoners do not know about. So when a murder happens in front of her eyes, her brain goes back through all the basic elements until a conclusion can be drawn.

The death at a puppet performance of Jack and the Beanstalk by a famous puppeteer echoes a death of a small child some five years earlier in the village of Bishop Lacey. But how does a travelling showman such as Rupert Porson come to have been in Bishop Lacey before this terrible event? Mad Meg of the woods is convinced that the devil took the child. Grace Ingleby the boy's mother has been grieving every day since he was found hanging in the wood. And exactly why does Cynthia Richardson think is going on in the village parish where husband is vicar? Plenty of plot lines and thoughts to follow and when you think you have solved the puzzle, another piece does not fit. Eventually Flavia seems to outwit Inspector Hewitt her adversary from the previous body she had found, and through her encyclopaedic knowledge of chemistry she saves one of the key witnesses.

All the characters from the first novel are back in this second instalment, besides Flavia's sisters there is her father still trying to come to terms with being widowed in house with 3 girls and keep everything and everyone from going to financial ruin. Dogger the faithful retainer remains in the background but you can sure that when his mind is up to it, he can see and hear what he needs to be able to help Flavia move that little bit closer to the truth. Mrs Mullet, the daily cook and housekeeper who is a budding Mrs Malaprop and makes me chuckle with her observations on recent village events. "...like I said, nobody knows for sure. They had what they call an ink-quest at the library - it's the same thing as a poet's mortem".

This is a lovely book, if a book with a murder can be described as such. It has the period charm of a Blyton story and the village setting of a Christie but when you have a bright young flame such as Flavia then it takes on a whole different meaning. Here is a girl that is trying to find her place in life, without the help of a mother long since dead and with two sisters who but are only interested in themselves and a father who is trying his hardest to do what, still remains a mystery to me as a reader. Flavia is a lost soul, and when you read this book and its predecessor then you feel that you have perhaps made Flavia's life a little brighter because it will have brightened your own.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Pure joy, 5 May 2011
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This review is from: The Weed That Strings the Hangman's Bag (FLAVIA DE LUCE MYSTERY) (Paperback)
In The Weed That Strings the Hangman's Bag, the second Flavia de Luce mystery, Alan Bradley has come up with another book that I desperately didn't want to finish - young Flavia is so refreshingly acerbic about everyone around her, yet at the same time beset with private fears. Was she, as her sisters claim, responsible for her mother's death? She's had to develop a tough exterior to protect her against such accusations, and some readers have complained that the apparent malice between the sisters is unconvincing or unpleasant, but Flavia comes from a more buttoned-up era when it was quite usual for all sorts of resentments to fester beneath the surface (actually, a good deal of festering still goes on, viz. any agony aunt's advice about the dangers of family get-togethers like Christmas, but these days we are encouraged to express our feelings more openly, which may or may not be a good thing). Domestic tensions aren't helped by a father who is largely disengaged, a family retainer with a tenuous hold on mental health and a Wodehousian aunt. Add a rather nasty suspicious death, a policeman who's keen to discourage amateur interference and some dodgy substances, and you have a recipe for a classic crime story.

The precocious Flavia's voice carries the action deliciously - Bradley so evidently adores his young heroine, and his writing resonates with the atmosphere of a bygone England. I suspect Bradley might have spent the odd happy hour, himself, absorbing the acid delights of Nancy Mitford, because I detect in Flavia and her sisters a blood-tie with the young Radletts, while their ex-army Father is clearly an admirer of Lord Alconleigh. Inspector Hewitt, on the other hand, might have emerged from the pages of Georgette Heyer or Marjory Allingham, and is a worthy adversary for Flavia - he'd be an evener worthier ally, if only he could see it, because he infuriates Flavia by thwarting her attempts to help, thereby forcing her to embark on her own investigations, which she pursues with dogged determination and considerable deviousness. She is pure joy.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Delightfully Entertaining, 10 April 2011
By 
Mrs. C. Colbert (Blackburn, Lancashire, UK) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
This review is from: The Weed That Strings the Hangman's Bag (FLAVIA DE LUCE MYSTERY) (Paperback)
The second book in the Flavia de Luce mystery series set in a small village in 1950's England is every bit as good as the first one!

Flavia's two older sisters -- Orphelia, obsessed with her looks and Daphne, obsessed with her books -- are still being horrible to her, telling her that she was adopted and nobody wants her. Her father is still obsessed with his stamp collection and just wants a quiet life, which leaves Flavia plenty of time to go wandering around the village and surrounding countryside trying to ascertain who murdered Rupert Porson while he was in the middle of a puppet show......and after all, who would suspect an eleven year old girl of doing a better job than the police!

This time we are also introduced to Aunt Felicity (Flavia's father's eccentric sister) who comes to stay at the crumbling Buckshaw House to try and sort out the family's ailing finances. As we see life through eleven year old Flavia's eyes we don't know the exact details but the villagers are full of gossip about whether her father will have to sell the family home.

I enjoyed reading Alan Bradley's descriptions of the area --

""Above me, Gibbet Wood clung to the top of Gibbet Hill like a green skullcap. As I approached, and then entered beneath the branches of this ancient forest, it was like stepping into a painting by Arthur Rackham. Here, in the dim green gloom, the air was sharp with the smell of decay: of funguses and leaf mould, of black humus, of slithering muck, and of bark gnawed away to dust by beetles. Bright cobwebs hung suspended like little portcullises of light between the rotted tree stumps.""

You almost feel as if you're right there walking beside Flavia. I really like Flavia and I also love the fact that she is obsessed with chemistry and even has her own magnificent Victorian chemistry laboratory at the south-west corner of her house.

This is a lovely gentle mystery which takes you along at a nice and steady pace, not rushing or hurrying to get to the reveal but all the ends are tied neatly up and you get a wonderful feeling of satisfaction that all is right with the world.
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4.0 out of 5 stars That's the way to do it!!!, 8 April 2011
By 
Michael Finn (Blackburn, Lancashire, United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
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The previous book in this series had me rummaging around in my cupboards to find my old stamp books, since the plot revolved around stamps and their collectors and admirers. Said rummaging also involved turning over some of my childhood memories connected to my own involvement in the hobby. See review of The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie. This time the old traditional puppet show takes centre stage instead and unfortunately I'm not a closet puppet collector with vintage Punch & Judy puppets lurking in my attic so I'll just have to review the book instead. Ok so maybe I had a Sooty hand puppet way back when but he was hardly the star of my toy cupboard. The star of this book though is the formidable Flavia De Luce. At nearly 12 years old she might not be in Sherlock Holmes' league but she's more than a match for the local country constabulary. I found myself imagining Flavia as a Wednesday Addams who has grown out of her spiders and turned her hand to chemistry and crime fighting. Many of the characters introduced in the first book are here again, including all the extraordinary De Luce's plus staff and a whole bunch more to fatten up the suspect list. The story starts quite slow as the stage is meticulously dressed with clues and red herrings and distractions of the Flavia kind but when the first body hits the ground things start moving. Flavia's detective work probably compares more with Columbo than Holmes, as she uses her youth to tease information from everyone she meets. Between the sleuthing there's always time for a few interludes of De Luce family disharmony. Alan Bradley's writing manages the difficult task of keeping things fun without sending his creations up. As a wise man once said, "That's the way to do it!!!"
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4.0 out of 5 stars the weed that strings the hangman's bag, 16 Mar. 2011
This review is from: The Weed That Strings the Hangman's Bag (FLAVIA DE LUCE MYSTERY) (Paperback)
The weed that strings the hangman's bag by Alan Bradley.

Set in rural England in 1950 The weed that strings the hangman's bag by Alan Bradley very deliberately recreates the feel of classic English detective fiction but with a modern twist. The heroine and 'detective' is Flavia de Luce a precocious eleven year old girl with a passion for poisons and chemicals of all sorts. Flavia is never surprised by anything with a scientific foundation. Everything from pregnancy to cannabis is dealt with in an unshocked and logical manner, which at times is a little hard to totally believe in. Even though Flavia's family is unconventional she can't be immune from the social norms of her class and time. However, when it comes to matters of emotion she becomes an endearing and very believable child again. Flavia's mother is dead and her father pre-occupied with stamp collecting. Her two older sisters Daffy and Feely find their refuge in books and tease Flavia quite cruelly that she is adopted or that their mother rejected her. Chemistry is at once her own refuge and her means of revenge for these taunts. The village of Bishop's Lacey is the archetypal English village of vintage detective fiction with its cast of odd characters and people with a past. These flit on and off the stage playing their appointed parts in giving clues and background. Their virtue in this book is that Alan Bradley makes them relevant to us 60 years distant from their setting in a way that the original books of the genre can't. The centrepiece of the book is a puppet show; another thing now vanished from our calendar of modern entertainments. The master puppeteer crashes to the floor in the middle of the performance and Flavia, in the audience, is quick to realise that it is no accident. The rest of the book is, as you would expect, devoted to the solving of the mystery with Flavia rendering the 'real' police investigation basically irrelevant. There is a fine line, for a mystery writer, between giving too much away and making the plot so convoluted as to be meaningless. Mr Bradley straddles this divide with confidence and credibility. The outcome is satisfying for the attentive reader and here too we have a modern twist to the vintage tale in the technical abilities of the murderer and how they were acquired. It's hard to portray this to the reader of this review without divulging the murderer's identity. I enjoyed the symmetry of murderer and sleuth as technical experts unusual for their time and society.

This is the second book in the Flavia series and I have not read the first - The sweetness at the bottom of the pie. In The weed that strings the hangman's bag Flavia comes to us a well-developed character with a history and personality. Her extended family and their retainers are also interesting and the author has a good ear for dialogue and speech patterns. There is plenty of scope for everyone to develop in further novels and as long as the author keeps the omniscient side of Flavia's personality in check she will remain an endearing mix of intuition and logic, worldliness and innocence.
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