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A Red Herring Without Mustard: A Flavia de Luce Novel Paperback – October 18, 2011
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This month's Book With Buzz: "Little Fires Everywhere" by Celeste Ng
From the bestselling author of Everything I Never Told You, a riveting novel that traces the intertwined fates of the picture - perfect Richardson family and the enigmatic mother and daughter who upend their lives. See more
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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
“Irresistibly appealing.”—The New York Times Book Review
“This idiosyncratic young heroine continues to charm.”—The Wall Street Journal
“Full of pithy dialogue 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 preteen Nancy Drew, only savvier . . . and you have Flavia de Luce.”—Entertainment Weekly
“Outstanding . . . [a] marvelous blend of whimsy and mystery.”—Publishers Weekly (starred review)
“Delightful . . . a treasure.”—The Seattle Times
Top customer reviews
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. In the middle of it all hangs the very real life troubles of the de Luce family and their money problems. Flavia's father has to make some hard decisions and some sacrifices are necessary now, and more will surely be faced in the future. Come along into this wonderful world and meet Flavia's father, her sisters Ophelia and Daphne, Mrs. Mallet, Dogger, the doctor, the vicar, the police inspector and his sergeant and a host of neighbors both nice and not so nice. A small English village, an eleven year old girl, the 1950's and crime of many kinds. A recipe for adventure and delight.
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.