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.