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The Weed That Strings the Hangman's Bag: A Flavia de Luce Novel by [Bradley, Alan]
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The Weed That Strings the Hangman's Bag: A Flavia de Luce Novel Kindle Edition

4.5 out of 5 stars 360 customer reviews
Book 2 of 8 in Flavia de Luce (8 Book Series)

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Length: 386 pages Word Wise: Enabled Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Amazon Exclusive: An Essay by Alan Bradley

Flavia de Luce walked into my life one winter day, parked herself on a campstool, and refused to be budged.

It took me quite a while to realize that she wasn’t even faintly interested in the mystery novel I was attempting to write at the time: the one into which she had wandered. I found out quickly enough that Flavia wanted her own book--and that was that.

And it was just the beginning. There were still more problems to come.

The first was this: Flavia lived in 1950, while I was writing about her in 2006 and 2007.

As an author, it’s not as easy as you might think projecting--and keeping--your mind in a different century from your body--not without forever being yanked back into the present by everyday annoyances such as frozen water pipes, expiring license plates, incessantly barking dogs, and the need to shop for food.

Another problem was this: I lived on Canada’s west coast, where the clocks are set to Pacific Time, while Flavia lived in Bishop’s Lacey, England, which is on Greenwich Mean Time--a difference of nine hours. In practical terms, this meant that Flavia was raring to go every day just as I was getting ready for bed. Because there was no point in either of us being tired and cranky, we finally managed to work out a compromise in which I began awakening at 4:00 a.m. to write, while Flavia (rather impatiently) hung around until after lunch, waiting for me to show up.

As The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie progressed, I soon learned that Flavia wouldn’t be pushed around--especially by me. Because she had so many of her own ideas, she had little patience with mine. Occasionally, if I were tired, I’d find myself trying to put words in her mouth: to push her, as it were. But Flavia would have none of it.

"Blot that," she seemed to be saying. "Let’s back up and start again."

And of course we did.

Then there was the problem of the chemistry. While Flavia knew everything about chemistry that could be known, my own knowledge of the subject could be put into a thimble with room left over for a finger. If I protested that I was in doubt about the precise details of one of her more bizarre chemical experiments, Flavia would snap her metaphorical fingers and say, "Well, you can look it up in your spare time."

Almost from the outset I realized that the tale Flavia had to tell could never be contained in a single book. And that’s how the series was born. Fortunately, my editors were in total agreement!

We liked the idea of each book revolving around some now-vanished English custom, or way of life, and of being able, gradually, to get to know the de Luce family, giving each of them the time and the space to--eventually--tell his or her own story.

Of course, to convey authentic 1950s voices, the pacing would have to be slower than we are used to in the 21st century. On the other hand, a more relaxed narrative would allow for an additional overall richness of description that might not be found in a more breakneck series of thrillers.

But I needn’t have worried: Flavia had her own voice and insisted on being listened to.

It was I who had to do the learning. --Alan Bradley

(Photo © Shirley Bradley)


From Booklist

Flavia, the precocious, imaginative, and adorable 11-year-old sleuth, returns for her second adventure. It’s a mystery in itself how a mature male author can pen the adventures of such a young female child and keep readers believing in the fantasy. Flavia’s world is 1950s England—specifically, a very old country house that just happens to have a long-abandoned chemistry laboratory. And Flavia just happens to be fascinated by chemistry—particularly poisons. This helps her solve mysteries because, as Flavia says, “There’s something about pottering with poisons that clarifies the mind.” This time she becomes involved with the members of a traveling puppet show that features the tale of Jack and the Beanstalk. When the puppetmaster is mysteriously electrocuted during the show, Flavia knows it can’t be an accident and eventually finds the murderer. The rest of Flavia’s family are also eccentric, to say the least, and add greatly to the overall fun. Thank goodness Bradley is not allowing Flavia to grow up too quickly; we need more sleuths whose primary mode of transportation is a bicycle. --Judy Coon

Product details

  • File Size: 3148 KB
  • Print Length: 386 pages
  • Publisher: Dell (March 3, 2010)
  • Publication Date: March 9, 2010
  • Sold by: Random House LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B0030DHPH0
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Screen Reader: Supported
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #79,106 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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