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A Red Herring Without Mustard: A Flavia de Luce Novel Hardcover – February 8, 2011

4.6 out of 5 stars 283 customer reviews
Book 3 of 5 in the Flavia de Luce Series

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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

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


“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

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Product Details

  • Series: Flavia de Luce Mystery (Book 3)
  • Hardcover: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Delacorte Press; First Edition edition (February 8, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0385342322
  • ISBN-13: 978-0385342322
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 1.4 x 7.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (283 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #680,575 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Judy Lesley TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on February 11, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This charming series of novels written by Alan Bradley is positively addictive. You can start at any point, with any of the three, but Flavia along with her family, friends and neighbors in the tiny British hamlet of Bishop's Lacey will surely capture your imagination, your sympathy, or your heart. Probably all three.

Flavia is the most unusual eleven year old girl you could ever meet. Her interests are centered around chemistry, riding her bicycle (called Gladys) and escaping the evil clutches of her two older sisters who torture her at every turn. Ah, siblings. In this third action packed adventure Flavia starts out wanting to have her fortune told at the village fête and ends up burning down the tent of the gypsy fortune teller. Of course it was all an accident and Flavia does her best to make amends by seeing that Fenella Faa has a safe place to park her caravan while she recovers from the effects of the smoke she inhaled. And what better place than on the grounds of her family's estate, Buckshaw? Events begin to spiral into more and more unusual situations as Flavia begins to uncover facts of an ancient religious group, a kidnapped infant, valuable antiques disappearing and then reappearing, and a vicious attack, then a murder. All the while the police are pursuing their inquiries and Flavia is pursuing her own investigation. What is that smell of dead fish she seems to keep noticing?

I enjoyed this book from start to finish. I had been looking forward to following along while this young detective solved the puzzles which seemed to keep mounting up and I certainly was not disappointed. The deeper Flavia went into the attack on Fenella the more questions were raised about other things going on in both Bishop's Lacey and other nearby villages.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
"A Red Herring Without Mustard" features Britain's most precocious 11-year old and self-appointed detective, Flavia de Luce, and sets her on a path to resolve a violent assault on a gypsy woman who has just read her fortune (and had her tent burned down for her trouble); the killing of a local eccentric whose body is hung on the trident of fountain statuary; and the apparent widespread and undetected theft and forgery of local antique furnishings. This all takes place in a well-evoked county area of Britain a few years after WWII.

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.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
The charming, manipulative, humorous, intelligent, dark, imaginative and creative Flavia de Luce is smack dab right where she loves to be---in the middle of a mystery. In "Red Herring without Mustard" Flavia befriends an ancient gypsy woman after Flavia accidentally sets fire to the gypsy's tent after Flavia's fascinating reading.

Flavia finds the gypsy immediately after the gypsy was brutally attacked and saves the gypsy's life. Incredibly another murder of a local town character happens in Flavia's backyard and she has a copious amount of work to do to solve these related (or are they unrelated) murders???

Oh how I love Flavia. She is not a prissy girl---dead bodies fascinate her, chemistry and in particular poisons are her passion and she torments her sisters as eagerly as they torment her.

I am sad that this is currently the last book in this series...Flavia is an addiction I will have trouble walking away from and turning my attention to another book. It feels almost like I am cheating on Flavia.
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This review is not so much about this third book in the series, as it is about the entire series.

I'm not a huge fan of mysteries and a friend told me about these books and that I really needed to read them. So, I bundled off and bought all four of them and settled in. All I can tell you as a potential reader, is that they are at once humorous, sad and extremely entertaining.

It was difficult for me to believe that I could come to love an eleven year old girl that is extremely intelligent, horribly immature, over the top brash and can be both very secure and yet, at the very same moment, completely insecure in her life! She is all of these things and you cannot help but love her.

Her ability to play adults, know how to get what she wants from them, and at the same time be trying so hard to please them for their love and acceptance is just something you have to read to believe. Alan Bradley is simply one of today's best writers of extremely sharp novels that are mysteries, yes...but more a study of human relationships in a most entertaining and compassionate way.

Read these books...but read them in order so as to better develop with the characters. Wonderful literature.

I am going to publish this same review for the fourth book so regardless of which one people read at either end, they will see the same message.
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