The Weed that Strings the Hangman’s Bag by Alan Bradley

3 October, 2010

You may remember how excited I was at finally getting acquainted with the lovely, lonely, eccentric, resourceful and chemistry-mad Flavia de Luce in Alan Bradley’s The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie. Any girl interested in science gets my vote big time. So I was equally excited but slightly apprehensive about reading Bradley’s second offering The Weed that Strings the Hangman’s Bag because there have been some mixed review. Granted, it didn’t emulate the same sense of wonder at reading the first book because there you were introduced to the de Luce clan and the other inhabitants of Bishop’s Lacey, but I really enjoyed reading it. It’s cosy, familiar and makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside, like I’m meeting an old friend again.

In The Weed that Strings the Hangman’s Bag, Bishop’s Lacey gets a visit from a renowned BBC puppeteer Rupert Porson and his flame-haired assistant Nialla. Their van has broken down and Flavia stumbles across them near the village church. The Vicar arranges for them to stay with the Inglebys at Culverhouse Farm and convinces Porson to do a show for the village. But in the midst of the show, Porson is killed and Flavia must once again use her wits to find the killer. Bubbling under the shadow of the murder is an earlier tragedy of the death of five year old Robin Ingleby who was found hanging in the woods. What is Rupert Porson’s connection with Robin’s father and who amongst the inhabitants of Bishop’s Lacey is devilishly clever enough to kill Porson?

The story is set in the 1950s with Bishop’s Lacey still recovering from WWII. Although I’m a huge fan of historical mysteries, I liked that Bradley’s novel didn’t weigh you down with too much historical facts. Apart from the presence of a German POW and a land girl helping out at Culverhouse Farm and a wonderful touch where a television is introduced into the de Luce household, you can almost forget the period in which the novel is set and concentrate on the eccentric characters that populate Bishop’s Lacey. In a way it is reminiscent of the Golden Age mysteries set in the land of yore (so comforting and so familiar, isn’t it?) I just love Flavia’s family so I have no complaints.

I, for one, will be looking forward to reading more from Alan Bradley and finding out more about Flavia’s adventures!

Many thanks to the lovely people at Orion who kindly sent me a copy to review.

I read this for the Thriller and Suspense Challenge 2010 and R.I.P. V Challenge.

15 Responses to “The Weed that Strings the Hangman’s Bag by Alan Bradley”

  1. winstonsdad Says:

    I keep meaning to pick up a bradley ,read so many good reviews of it ,Flavia seems a wonderful character,all the best stu

  2. Iris Says:

    I am looking forward to reading this. I do not own it yet, but I am sure that will change once I am at home again.

  3. Mystica Says:

    I have read the Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie and liked it very much. This also sounds a good read. Thanks for this review.

  4. I loved the first book in this series, so I really have no reason to not have read this one. I think Flavia’s spunk is so much fun!

  5. Helen Says:

    I loved The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie and can’t wait to read this one too. I don’t have a copy yet but it’s on my wishlist. Flavia is such a wonderful character!

  6. amymckie Says:

    I’m so glad to hear that you enjoyed this! I did too, and can’t wait for the third installment 🙂

  7. gaskella Says:

    I’m going to have to read these two – sounds like I’ll love them.

  8. Steph Says:

    I think I’m the last person on the planet who has yet to read this book, but for what it’s worth, I really want to! I love strong female detectives, and the added element of a chemistry-loving lady is all the more appealing!

  9. Kailana Says:

    I just finished the first book, but I think where the second book is getting mixed reviews I am going to wait a while before trying the second one.

  10. chasing bawa Says:

    I can’t wait to read the third installment too! I had no issues with the second volume, but it may be a good idea to wait if you feel unsure. Distance makes the heart grow fonder, etc…

  11. S. Krishna Says:

    I’m glad you enjoyed this one! I finished the first one a week or so ago and have the second one waiting for me.

  12. GeraniumCat Says:

    I’m glad that other people are enjoying this – I’m saving up my copy to read at a suitably auspicious time (possibly when I know that a third is on its way!)

  13. pamela Says:

    Could somebody please explain to me why the story starts with Flavia dead in her grave….

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