The Weed That Strings the Hangman’s Bag – Alan Bradley
Flavia de Luce didn’t intend to investigate another murder — but then, Rupert Porson didn’t intend to die. When Porson’s van breaks down in Bishop’s Lacey, he becomes the victim of an electrocution too perfectly planned to be an accident.
Putting down her sister-punishing experiments and picking up Gladys, her bicycle, Flavia uncovers long-buried secrets of Bishop’s Lacey, a seemingly idyllic town that nevertheless is home to a mad woman living in its woods, a prisoner-of-war with a soft spot for the English countryside, and two childless parents with a devastating secret. It’s possible that Ruper Porson’s van didn’t break down so accidentally in this charming hamlet. And it’s possible that his killer may lure in Flavia way over her eleven-year-old head, to a startling discovery about the chemical composition of vengeance.
This is book two of the Flavia de Luce series (for my review of book one, please click here).
This one seemed to start off slower than the first one. For example – not to spoil anything – the murder mentioned in the synopsis doesn’t happen until 150 pages in! Normally that would annoy me to no end (especially if it was a MG/YA book where I expect things to kick off within the first three chapters) but in this case, I don’t mind.
Why? Because I love the characters in these books. I don’t mind waiting for the mystery to start because I like reading about their daily lives. Flavia continues to be precocious and clever, and I sort of want to be her. Or I’d at least like to understand chemistry the way she does.
I still love Flavia’s relationships, particularly with her sisters and Dogger. I want to know more about Dogger: what happened to him in the war that leads to his “episodes”. But mostly, I love how he just casually accepts Flavia for who she is, and is often one to two steps ahead of her.
I liked the introduction of Dieter, but I secretly agreed with Flavia when she wished that Sergeant Graves would marry her devious sister Ophelia.
And I felt like the resolution of this murder was tragic and arguably darker than the first book. Which is a good thing!
The problem with reviewing series is that I don’t often have new things to add on a book-by-book basis. Even though I’ve only read the first three Flavia books before (this week I started A Red Herring Without Mustard), I think these books make up a solid 4 interrobangs series.