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A Red Herring Without Mustard: A Flavia de Luce Novel Paperback – October 18, 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 --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
“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
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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!
Most recent customer reviews
PG only because children under 12 probably wouldn't want to read it.
Little or no strong language