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A Red Herring Without Mustard: A Flavia de Luce Novel Paperback – October 18, 2011
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"Rebound" by Kwame Alexander
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“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
About the Author
Alan Bradley is the internationally bestselling author of many short stories, children’s stories, newspaper columns, and the memoir The Shoebox Bible. His first Flavia de Luce novel, The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie, received the Crime Writers’ Association Debut Dagger Award, the Dilys Winn Award, the Arthur Ellis Award, the Agatha Award, the Macavity Award, and the Barry Award, and was nominated for the Anthony Award. His other Flavia de Luce novels are The Weed That Strings the Hangman’s Bag, A Red Herring Without Mustard, I Am Half-Sick of Shadows, Speaking from Among the Bones, The Dead in Their Vaulted Arches, and As Chimney Sweepers Come to Dust.
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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.
Soon after the dark reading, Flavia finds the corpse of the ancient Gypsy. Someone stabbed the woman to death in her wagon. Flavia on her bike Gladys investigates the homicide while she contemplates that the murder appears to be one of passion perhaps vengeance; similar to what she thrives for against her older siblings though not with murderous malice. Instead of solving this killing, Flavia finds a second body. Her inquiry leads to an intriguing clue to what she considers the key mystery.
This is a terrific post WWII whimsical amateur sleuth as Flavia follows the murder clues while eluding the demands of her older sisters and her father is to busy with his stamps. As with her previous cases (see The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie and The Weed That Strings the Hangman's Bag), the tweener keeps the story line focused as she investigates two homicides in which the clues twist into something personal.
But, above all else, the reason to read Mr. Bradley's novels is for Miss Flavia de Luce, one of the greatest literary creations I have ever had the joy of meeting. Flavia de Luce is a very special character. She is whip-smart and precocious, yet never to the point of seeming unrealistic. For even though she is wise beyond her years, Mr. Bradley somehow balances her intellectual gifts with just the right amount of childhood innocence and naivete.
To me, these novels are escapism at its very finest. I cannot help but smile every time I get the chance to step back into the world of Bishop's Lacey with young Flavia.
Note: Read them in order. I suppose it isn't vital, but you will enjoy them more.
Most recent customer reviews
PG only because children under 12 probably wouldn't want to read it.
Little or no strong language