Title: The Weed That Strings the Hangman's Bag
Author: Alan Bradley
Genre: Fiction, Mystery
Year Published: 2010
Flavia thinks that her days of crime-solving in the bucolic English hamlet of Bishop’s Lacy are over—and then Rupert Porson has an unfortunate rendezvous with electricity. The beloved puppeteer has had his own strings sizzled, but who’d do such a thing and why? For Flavia, the questions are intriguing enough to make her put aside her chemistry experiments and schemes of vengeance against her insufferable big sisters. Astride Gladys, her trusty bicycle, Flavia sets out from the de Luces’ crumbling family mansion in search of Bishop’s Lacey’s deadliest secrets.
Does the madwoman who lives in Gibbet Wood know more than she’s letting on? What of the vicar’s odd ministrations to the catatonic woman in the dovecote? Then there’s a German pilot obsessed with the Brontë sisters, a reproachful spinster aunt, and even a box of poisoned chocolates. Most troubling of all is Porson’s assistant, the charming but erratic Nialla. All clues point toward a suspicious death years earlier and a case the local constables can’t solve—without Flavia’s help. But in getting so close to who’s secretly pulling the strings of this dance of death, has our precocious heroine finally gotten in way over her head?
I loved the first book in this series, The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie. Flavia de Luce is the daughter I wish I had. She's smart, observant, and incredibly morbid. I knew from that book I would have to read the whole series.
This book wasn't quite as exciting as the first. The story didn't pull me in like the last one. Once again, Flavia the suspicious death of a travelling puppeteer and is determined to solve it. As she finds clues and attempts to solve another mystery, she learns new things about the death of a young boy that happened about five years earlier. As with the last book, there are connections between the two deaths.
While reading this book, I was not as engaged as I was with the first. The mystery part just seemed a bit cluttered and confusing to me, which may explain why I had trouble speeding through this book. However, Flavia is still herself and completely charming. Even though I wasn't absolutely in love with the storyline, everything tied together in the end and resolved the story without seeming to end like that because Bradley just wanted to end the book.
Even though I was slightly underwhelmed by the second book in this series, I still recommend reading this. Bradley creates memorable, likable characters that make his books a joy to read. This book can be read alone with no worries of following the story line. It is definitely a must read if you loved the first book.