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on 30 December 2010
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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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 24 March 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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on 6 September 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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on 26 August 2010
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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THE WEED THAT STINGS THE HANGMAN'S BAG is the second instalment in the Flavia De Luce mystery series. For me, the enjoyment with these novels lies with Flavia herself. Despite her precocious nature, you cannot help but like her. As the novels are set within the 1950s, and with an eleven-year-old narrator, there is a naivety to Bradley's tales which makes them more bearable compared to some modern murder mysteries which can be overwhelmed by gore in all its bloody detail.
I will definitely continue reading this series. If, like me, you enjoy mysteries but don't want the gratuitous violence, then you may do well to try introducing yourself to the world of Flavia.
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on 21 June 2012
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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on 13 November 2015
Mord är ingen barnlek (The Weed That Strings the Hangman's Bag), book 2 in the Flavia de Luce series. I read this book in Swedish!

Delightful! That's is precisely what this book is. Just a delightful story with the precocious Flavia de Luce. This time is she trying to find out who killed the famous puppeteer Rupert Porson and she does her usually way, by being curious, listening to gossip and putting two and two together. And, thinking of ways of killing people with poisons..especially her sisters.

Flavia de Luce is such a wonderful characters, she will either be a great detective when she grows up or a very deadly poisoner. Her love for chemistry shows through the book and she is especially fond of poisons. But of course, she is still just eleven and even though she is clever there are moments when she doesn't understand things, grow up things like secret relations between grown-ups and I love Dogger when he tries to explain that it's when two people are really good friends. And, I feel for her when her two older sister bullies her. It's not easy with a father who rather spend his time with his stamps, a dead mother, and two older sisters that whenever opportunity shows up tries to tell her that their parents never wanted her. And, in this book her aunt Felicity shows up, but I think that Flavia in the end came to appreciate her visiting, especially after they had a talk alone.

The first book in this series was good, but I enjoyed the story in this book even more and it were so many suspects in the story that I didn't figure out how and when was behind it all until the very end. I really enjoyed the part in the end when she explained it all for the police. Hilarious. They should hire her.

4.5 stars
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If you haven’t meant Flavia, she is an 11-year-old living in the small town of Bishop’s Lacey in England in 1950. Oh, and she has a fascination with chemistry, poison, and death. These were only heightened by a murder she found herself involved in and solving just a couple of weeks before this book opens.

That opening finds Flavia sitting in the cemetery. Her thoughts are interrupted by a woman crying. The woman is Nialla, the assistant to famous puppeteer Rupert Porson. They are on a nationwide tour performing his amazing version of Jack and the Beanstalk, but their van has broken down. While they await the repairs, and to earn some money to pay for those repairs, they agree to do two performances in the village, and Flavia finds herself helping them set up.

However, before the performances are over, someone is dead. Flavia and her family witness the deed, and Flavia immediately begins to investigate. Will she once again find the killer?

As I hinted at earlier, that murder doesn’t take place until almost the half-way point. Yes, some of what happens before that is important to the solution of the case, however, the tension just isn’t there. It’s more a series of events that we just don’t care about for far too long, and I was a little bored at times. Honestly, some of these revelations could have been worked into the story after the murder takes place so we care about what we are learning. It would have made the book stronger.

Once that second half hits, the pace definitely does pick up, and I began to enjoy it much more. The climax is not as suspenseful as the first book, but it is gripping in other ways and very well done.

The characters are still absolutely wonderful. Well, Flavia’s older sisters are truly horrible to her, but then again, Flavia isn’t a saint to them by any means either. We meet quite a few new characters in this book, and they all come across as real. These characters are the true strength of the book.

Flavia is not your typical 11-year-old, and her observations, especially in the first person narration, are often funny. This isn’t a humorous novel overall, but you will find lines that will make you smile if not laugh.

And yes, I do intend to continue the series. While this book could have been paced better, I’m still curious what happens next to Flavia.
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on 30 July 2015
As is to be hoped for an author’s second novel, The Weed that Strings the Hangman’s Bag is an altogether more confident book than Alan Bradley’s enjoyable-but-flawed debut The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie. There’s still a shortfall of actual plot, but that feels like more of a deliberate narrative decision this time around, and given that he’s working with a fairly small cast he skilfully entwines his different threads just enough that nothing really feels superfluous this time around.

The overall experience is rounded out by some lovely asides – The Remarkable Sleeping Pig, for one – and a fabulous turn of phrase (characters moving around in the confines of a tent appearing from the outside "like someone sweeping up broken glass") as much as Bradley’s increased confidence in his characters and setting. Bishop’s Lacey now feels like somewhere that lives and breathes, full of flustered old maids, sympathetic undertakers, and hen-pecked vicars alike who are all susceptible to the persuasion of too-precocious-to-be-true 11 year-old sleuth Flavia de Luce.

There’s a lovely mix of worldliness and naivety to our protagonist/narrator that doesn’t ring at all true but is hugely charming all the same. From the delight she feels in picking apart chemical reactions to her frank admission of not really being sure what goes on when two people conduct an affair, Flavia is marvellous enough company that you’ll happily overlook how unlikely she is. That’s part of the fun of this anyway, right? No-one wants to read about a girl who loses interest in the murder and starts pining after owning a puppy instead. She is the perfect vehicle for navigating the shades light and darkness that Bradley is painting, and here’s hoping they enjoy much success to come.
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VINE VOICEon 23 August 2011
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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