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A Red Herring Without Mustard: A Flavia de Luce Novel Hardcover – February 8, 2011
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Stubborn, precocious Flavia de Luce seems old beyond her 11 years, but readers of her previous encounters with dead bodies and mystery know she has a vulnerable side, as well. Nowhere is that more visible than in her relationships with her distant father and her sisters, who constantly taunt her. In her latest adventure, the family is on the verge of bankruptcy. Father is auctioning his beloved stamps and selling the family silver. In the midst of this crisis, the irrepressible young snoop investigates the beating of a gypsy fortune-teller and the murder of a local thief, which seem somehow connected to a group of religious eccentrics, an antique shop, a missing baby, and a strange, fishy smell. Sound complicated? It is, but Bradley handles it so well you hardly notice. Buttressed by consistently quirky characters and an English country-village backdrop, Flavia�s chatterbox narration reveals the amateur sleuth�s obnoxiousness as well as her intellegence and irrepressible curiosity. The upshot is a spirited, surprisingly innocent tale, despite murky goings-on at its center. Think of Flavia as a new Sherlock in the making. --Stephanie Zvirin
“She remains irresistibly appealing.” —New York Times Book Review
“A Red Herring Without Mustard will steal a mystery lover’s heart, and the clever Miss Flavia will surely keep it forever.” —Las Vegas ReviewJournal
“Flavia, oh Flavia, how I’ve missed you!.....If you like your heroines whip-smart, lippy, and resourceful, Flavia’s your gal.” —Montreal Gazette
“As satisfying as the mystery is, the multiple-award winning Bradley offers more…beautifully written, with fully fleshed characters…[Bradley] secures his position as a confident, talented writer and storyteller.” —Toronto Globe & Mail
“Delightful….The book’s forthright and eerily mature narrator is a treasure.” —Seattle Times
“As hilarious, gripping, and sad as the previous books in this enjoyable series….once again, Bradley succeeds. And so, of course, does Flavia.” —Bookpage
"This idiosyncratic heroine continues to charm." —Wall Street Journal
“Think preteen Nancy Drew, only savvier and a lot richer, and you have Flavia de Luce….Don't be fooled by Flavia's age or the 1950s setting: A Red Herring isn't a dainty tea-and-crumpets sort of mystery. It's shot through with real grit.” —Entertainment Weekly
“Outstanding….In this marvelous blend of whimsy and mystery, Flavia manages to operate successfully in the adult world of crimes and passions while dodging the childhood pitfalls set by her sisters.” —Publishers Weekly (starred review)
“Oh, to be 11 again and pal around with irresistible wunderkind Flavia de Luce….A splendid romp through 1950s England led by the world’s smartest and most incorrigible preteen.” —Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
“Whether battling with her odious sisters or verbally sparing with the long-suffering Inspector Hewitt, our cheeky heroine is a delight. Full of pithy dialog and colorful characters, this series would appeal strongly to fans of Dorothy Sayers, Gladys Mitchell, and Leo Bruce as well as readers who like clever humor mixed in with their mysteries.” —Library Journal (starred review)
“Think of Flavia as a new Sherlock in the making.” —Booklist
ACCLAIM FOR ALAN BRADLEY’S BELOVED FLAVIA DE LUCE MYSTERIES
“Flavia is incisive, cutting and hilarious . . . one of the most remarkable creations in recent literature.”—USA Today
The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie
“Wonderfully entertaining . . . sure to be one of the most loved mysteries of the year.”—Chicago Sun-Times
“If ever there was a sleuth who’s bold, brilliant, and, yes, adorable, it’s Flavia de Luce. . . . [A] scrumptious first novel.”—USA Today
“A five-star performance for young and old . . . written with Dickensian flair, Sherlockian suspense and tongue-in-cheek fun.” —Mysterious Reviews
The Weed That Strings the Hangman’s Bag
“Utterly beguiling . . . wicked wit . . . The real delight here is [Flavia’s] droll voice and the eccentric cast.”—People (four stars)
“Bradley takes everything you expect and subverts it, delivering a smart, irreverent, unsappy mystery.”—Entertainment Weekly
“Discovering Alan Bradley’s Flavia de Luce books is several steps beyond pleasure—it’s a sheer delight.”—Winston-Salem Journal
Top customer reviews
What is actually a very good village-style mystery plot is augmented by an equally entertaining and funny chronicle of the relationships shared by protagonist Flavia, her two older sisters (Daffy and Feely), her long-suffering father, the family servants and a cast of neighborhood characters, including the village constabulary which makes several exasperated mandatory appearances as crimes are uncovered.
With a wit and devious mind and habits that would do justice to Sherlock Holmes, Andy Dalziel or Lt. Columbo, Flavia de Luce bounces from one crime scene to another, piecing together the clues provided by victims and bystanders. Her hyper-activity and boundless energy aggravate one and all, but particularly her older siblings, who carry on a running warfare with her within the family fold.
The writing in this crime novel is intelligent and engrossing throughout, and considering the madcap antics of the main character and pace of the plot, there are few false notes to be read. A lot of fun. Recommended.
For example, 11 year-old Flavia and her older sisters play mean tricks on each other, and Flavia has fallen into one of their traps. She muses, "I had already learned that sisterhood, like Loch Ness, has things that lurk unseen beneath the surface, but I think it was only now that I realized that of all the invisible strings that tied the three of us together, the dark ones were the strongest."
And there's the fact that Flavia loves chemistry, and it gets her into trouble as much as out of trouble. Such as when she was drummed out of the Girl Guides for unauthorized use of ferric hydroxide, which, Flavia pouts, was "only meant to be a joke".
But there is so much heart to this irrepressible girl. The story starts with her accidentally setting fire to the tent of an aged Gypsy fortune teller at the town fete. Filled with guilt, Flavia escorts the Gypsy, Fenella Faa, to a campsite called the Palings. It's located on Buckshaw land, Buckshaw being the de Luce family pile.
On the way, they pass the home of the Bulls, where the blowsy Mrs. Bull screams at them, blaming the Gypsies for the disappearance of her baby girl several years earlier. That night, someone beats the old Gypsy near to death. And then there is a murder. Brookie Harewood is found dead, hanging from Poseidon's trident in a Buckshaw sculpture fountain.
I enjoy Bradley's way with words. Here, Flavia listens to Vanetta Harewood talk about her son, "Brookie was a good boy... but he did not grow up to be a good man. He had the fatal gift of making people believe him."
As you can guess from the book title, Flavia has more trouble than usual figuring out what's going on. Too many red herrings. How about the Hobblers, a religious sect that flourished nearby? Or, why had she found Brookie Harewood RETURNING an antique pair of firedogs to Buckshaw, before his demise? What's with the Gypsy woman's granddaughter, so prickly, so scared? Or the infirm Dr. Kissing, who used to scale summits near the Palings?
As always, I thoroughly enjoyed this Flavia mystery. I love the comedy, I love the erudition, I love the innocence, I love the sneakiness. It's good mystery reading!