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A Red Herring Without Mustard: A Flavia de…

A Red Herring Without Mustard: A Flavia de Luce Novel (edition 2011)

by Alan Bradley

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2,0391544,938 (3.96)218
Title:A Red Herring Without Mustard: A Flavia de Luce Novel
Authors:Alan Bradley
Info:Delacorte Press (2011), Hardcover, 416 pages
Tags:mystery, Canada, Great Britain, fiction

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A Red Herring Without Mustard: A Flavia de Luce Novel by Alan Bradley

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I needed something uncomplicated to read after the horror that was Almuric. I was thinking some Kinsey Milhone, but the next one in the series had been checked out. So I settled for Flavia de Luce, which my library could deliver to my kindle on the spot. Bless their hearts.

This is the third in the series. Flavia is an overly intelligent 11-year old who lives in a decaying manor house in a small village in Britain around 1950. Her particular interest is chemistry. She has a complete lab in one of the old, unused wings. Since chemistry has given me a pretty good living so far, I can't help but appreciate it and all the thrown-in nerdly chemical factoids that pepper this book.

So anyway, Flavia has a gypsy tell her fortune. She gets overly excited and knocks over a candle inside the gypsy's tent and the tent burns down. As a sort of reparation, she tells the gypsy that she can park her caravan by the river on their land (Flavia lives in a manor house that has seen better days). Then when she goes later on to visit the gypsy, she finds the gypsy has had her head smashed in. But Flavia gets her medical attention and saves the gypsy's life.

Then she finds one of the town lay-abouts lurking around the fire place in her house in the middle of the night. She sends him off. Not long after, she finds the lay-about has been hung up on one of the spikes of Poseidon's trident, which is a part of the statuary in the manor's garden.

Oh, the gypsy's grand daughter, Porcelain, wanders in and out of the setting alternatively antagonizing or befriending Flavia. Then, of course, we have all the sibling rivalies between Flavia and her two sisters, the bookish Daffy (Daphne; 13 or 14) and the intensely vain Feely (Ophelia; 17). Along the way she ponders the life of her mother, an adventurous sort who died climbing in the Himalayas when Flavia was a babe, and of course links all kinds of things to chemistry. Naturally, she uncovers the dastard who bopped the gypsy and strung up the lay-about and uncovers a number of hidden village weirdness.

It's not the world's greatest literature, but a rather fun read. Would that I could give s and -s, I'd rate it either 3* or perhaps 4*-.
( )
  lgpiper | Jun 21, 2019 |
Bravo! I couldn't put it down, and Flavia had me in stitches throughout. ( )
  LMJenkins | Nov 28, 2018 |
Set in 1950s Bishop's Lacy, England, at the church fete, eleven-year-old Flavia de Lucie decides to get her fortune told. But when things go wrong she accidentally sets fire to the tent when the gypsy gives her a fortune about her dead mother and runs off. She comes forward to Dr. Darby to confess what she has done and offer to pay, but the gypsy woman, Fennella, says it was an accident and there are no charges. However, Fennella does not have a place to stay so Flavia offers up the Palings, an area of land on her dead mother's estate for Fennella and her horse and caravan to stay.

On the way there, Mrs. Bull, who is camped out there, freaks out and accuses Fennella of stealing her baby that went missing several years ago. Flavia gets her out of that situation and settled for the night. The next morning when she goes to check on her she finds her barely alive having been bludgeoned nearly to death. She sets out for the doctor's and brings him back and Fenella's life is saved, though she is in a coma.

Her granddaughter, Porcelain comes down to look after her grandmother. Flavia hides her in her section of the house, which she uses sometimes when she isn't accusing Flavia of attacking her grandmother because Flavia's father kicked her grandparents off of the property years ago which caused the death of her grandfather.

But there are others up and about that night acting mysteriously. Brookie Harewood. is paid money by his mother to stay away. But that doesn't seem to be enough money because he was seen by Flavia inside her home returning two fancy fireplace pokers. Then not long after that Porcelain and Flavia find him hanging from the Poseidon's trident with a lobster fork shoved up his nose. She calls in Inspector Hewett but doesn't tell him about Brookie's break-in at Buckshaw, her home.

Flavia plays inside her laboratory concocting chemical compounds that help her solve the mystery. She will need the help from her odioius older sisters Feely and Daffy who abuse her awfully, but upon whom she will seek her revenge. Did the same person attack Fennella and kill Brookie or were they separate crimes? Why are there more than one set of fireplace pokers? Will Flavia figure out who the killer or possibly killers are in time? Flavia is a delightful child who is clever, yet longs for a friend. She hopes Porcelain will be that friend but is sometimes disappointed. She is such a unique child that there is no one like her to be friends with her. She constantly feels as though she is pitting her wits against Inspector Hewett and seeks his approval. This is a fabulous book and I give it a four and a half stars out of five.


There are times that I see, but do not observe.

-Alan Bradley (A Red Herring Without Mustard p 10)

“Love’s not some big river that flows on and on forever, and if you believe it is, you’re a bloody fool. It can be dammed up until nothing’s left but a trickle…” “Or stopped completely,” I added.

-Alan Bradley (A Red Herring Without Mustard p 155)

Chemistry has more gods than Mount Olympus and here in my solitude I could pray to the greatest of them: Joseph Louis Gay-Lussac (Who, when he found a young assistant in a linen draper’s shop surreptitiously reading a chemistry text which she kept hidden under the counter, promptly dumped his fiancée and married the girl); William Perkin (Who had found a way of making purple dye for the robes of emperors without using the spit of mollusks); and Carl Wilhelm Scheele, who probably discovered oxygen, and---more thrilling than even that—hydrogen cyanide, my personal pick as the last word in poisons.

-Alan Bradley (A Red Herring Without Mustard p 185)

I had always marveled at the way in which three clear liquids—nitric acid, hydrochloric acid, and water—when combined could produce, as if by magic, color—and not just any color, but the color of a flaming sunset.

-Alan Bradley (A Red Herring Without Mustard p 244) ( )
  nicolewbrown | Nov 26, 2018 |
I enjoy this series when I need a fun read. It's like reading palate-cleansing. Haha!

This installment is consistent with the first two: young, clever, scientist/detective who is terrorized by her older sisters and generally misunderstood by the world solves mysteries.

[I listened to this on Overdrive audio; I own the hardcover] ( )
  joyblue | Oct 28, 2018 |
Still a lot of fun and enjoyable, while being nothing too special. ( )
  _rixx_ | Aug 30, 2018 |
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» Add other authors (19 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Bradley, Alanprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Bronswijk, Ineke vanTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Entwistle, JayneNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Hobbing, DianeDesignersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Montgomery, JoeCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Sullivan, SimonCartographersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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...a cup of ale without a wench, why, alas, 'tis like an egg without salt or a red herring without mustard.
- A Looking Glasse, for London and Englande, by Thomas Lodge and Robert Greene (1592)
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John ja Janet Harlandille
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"You frighten me," the Gypsy said.
It was Ophelia, the older of my two sisters. Feely was seventeen, and ranked herself right up there with the Blessed Virgin Mary, although the chief difference between them, I'm willing to bet, is that the BVM doesn't spend twenty-three hours a day peering at herself in a looking glass while picking away at her face with a pair of tweezers.
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Book description
Eleven-year-old detective Flavia de Luce sorts through clues, trying to solve various mysteries involving a missing child, a fortune-teller, and a dead body found in Flavia's own backyard.
Haiku summary

Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0385342322, Hardcover)

Guest Reviewer: Louise Penny on A Red Herring Without Mustard

Louise Penny is the bestselling author of Bury Your Dead,The Brutal Telling, Still Life and A Fatal Grace.

Alan Bradley’s third Flavia de Luce mystery, A Red Herring Without Mustard, exceeds in every way, if that’s even possible, his first two. Flavia uses her trademark cunning in scheming to get even with her older sisters who lay in wait to torment her. She saves a gypsy’s life, befriends Porcelain, the gypsy’s granddaughter, solves a puzzling and bizarre murder involving an ancient non-conformist cult, collects clues the police have missed and fearlessly ventures into danger. She is always feisty, always smart. I adore her. And while it is wonderful to read her as an adult I wish I’d had Flavia as a role model while growing up. It’s cool to be smart. It’s cool to be Flavia! And it’s great to be among her legion of fans.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:07:38 -0400)

(see all 6 descriptions)

Flavia's discovery of an old Gypsy woman who's been attacked in her wagon sends the girl off on an investigation that will reveal more of Buckshaw's secrets as well as new information about Harriet, the mother Flavia never knew.

(summary from another edition)

» see all 10 descriptions

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