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The Weed That Strings the Hangman's Bag

by Alan Bradley

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: Flavia de Luce (2)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
2,9912493,148 (3.97)1 / 393
Flavia de Luce, a dangerously brilliant eleven-year-old with a passion for chemistry and a genius for solving murders, sets out to solve the murder of a beloved puppeteer. All clues point toward a suspicious death years earlier and a case the local constables can't solve--without Flavia's help.
  1. 51
    We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson (kraaivrouw)
  2. 51
    Harriet the Spy by Louise Fitzhugh (kraaivrouw)
  3. 40
    The Beekeeper's Apprentice by Laurie R. King (47degreesnorth)
  4. 10
    Hotel Paradise by Martha Grimes (y2pk)
    y2pk: Pre-teen girl investigating adult crimes, while putting up with her sometimes-strange family and home life. Emma Graham also appears in two other books, Cold Flat Junction and Belle Ruin. They should be read in order.
  5. 00
    The Monstrumologist by Rick Yancey (47degreesnorth)

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Showing 1-5 of 247 (next | show all)
Flavia de Luce, the eleven year old sleuth and chemist obsessed with poison, meets famous TV star and puppeteer, Rupert Porson and his assistant Nialla, who are stranded in their broken down van. They agree to put on a performance of Jack and the Beanstalk for the residents of Bishop's Lacey and Flavia swings into action to help set it up. During the matinee performance the audience realizes the 1CJack 1D puppet looks liked five year old Robin Inglesby found hanging in the woods a few years earlier. During the evening performance the audience will witness a shocking murder.

Flavia quickly inserts herself into the investigation and will use her deductive skills and encyclopedic knowledge of chemistry to help solve the mystery. The village of Bishop 19s Lacey and the characters that live there are so well defined I can see them with my eyes closed. Flavia still lives in the crumbling mansion of Buckshaw with her detached widowed father and two awful sisters, Ophelia and Daphne, who devote themselves to mentally abusing Flavia. We are also introduced to eccentric Aunt Felicity in this book.

This may look like a child 19s book but Flavia is one of the greatest female detectives you 19ll ever meet. A mini Miss Marple with a dash of Sherlock Holmes. The dialogue is hysterical. At one point in her investigation Flavia says 1CI had no more intention of making tea than signing on as a coal pit donkey 1D. Alan Bradley gives us a good feel for the 1950 19s time period and the crumbling mansion Flavia and her family live in. I thought the storyline was reasonably complex. It was slow to get into but then turns into a classic British mystery.

I enjoyed this book even more than the first one (The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie). I plan to pick up the next one soon.
( )
  Olivermagnus | Jul 2, 2020 |
Busy little girl
cold case or freshly zapped corpse
no secret is safe. ( )
  Eggpants | Jun 25, 2020 |
This is the second book about eleven year old Flavia De Luce, who was first introduced in "The Sweetness At The Bottom Of The Pie", where she put her considerable talents to work in solving a murder her father had been accused of.

In this installment, Flavia becomes involved with a traveling puppeteer who has a show on the BBC, a shocking murder and ripples from the death of young boy, alone in the woods.

It's a decent mystery in its own right, steeped in the atmosphere of rural England after the Second World War, but what makes it exceptional is Flavia De Luce herself.

She is a wonderfully wrought character: dauntless, clever, manipulative, and eccentric in the great English aristo tradition. She is fascinated by and skilled in making poisons. She knows how to get people to tell things they would never otherwise reveal and she is relentless in her quest to find out who did what and why.

All this makes her rather intimidating. Flavia knows this of course. At one point, when she shows too much insight into the affairs of a young woman she is helping, the young woman points it out to her:

“You are terrifying,” Nialla said. “You really are. Do you know that?” We were sitting on a slab tomb in the churchyard as I waited for the sun to dry my feverish face. Nialla put away her lipstick and rummaged in her bag for a comb. “Yes,” I said, matter-of-factly. It was true—and there was no use denying it.'

During the denouement, Flavia reveals a crucial piece of information to the Detective Inspector debriefing her. When he turns to his team, demanding to know why they didn't know this, the response is:

"With respect, sir." Sergeant Woolmer ventured, "it could be because we're not Miss De Luce

For all her ferocious intellect and startling precocity, she is still an eleven year old girl. She is observant enough to uncover and affair but innocent enough not to be entirely sure exactly what is involved in such an undertaking.

She is also a lonely girl without enough love in her life. Her elder sisters treat her badly. Her father is distant, repressed and as obsessed with stamps as Falvia is with poisons. Her mother is dead and her only connection to her is to sit in the Rolls she owned or to ride the bike she used, which she has rechristened Gladys and sometimes treats as if it were sentient.

Flavia is not a girl who is trying to be older. Above all she seems to be trying just to be herself which she does with great self-assurance. When she turns up late (again) and her father describes her as "Utterly unreliable:" she thinks to herself

Of course I was! It was one of the things I loved most about myself. Eleven-year-olds are supposed to be unreliable.

Flavia knows that she is willing to overstep the bounds of politeness and perhaps even decency, to get the infomation she wants but she's reconciled to that aspect of herself. She says:

Sometimes I hated myself. But not for long.

This was a delightful read and a pleasing sequel. I will be back for more. ( )
  MikeFinnFiction | May 16, 2020 |
Another fantastic novel in a very promising series. I really love the way the stories develop, and all the characters, even the mean ones. This little girl is all right!! I sure hope he writes more... ( )
  stephanie_M | Apr 30, 2020 |
This is the second of Alan Bradley's Flavia de Luce mystery novels. For those who know nothing of little Flavia, she is an eleven year girl living in the 1950s English countryside. Flavia is obsessed with poisons and various ways to kill people with poisons. Yet, she manages to find herself in the midst of solving murders with both books.

In The Weed That Strings the Hangman's Bag, a traveling puppeteer comes to Bishops Lacey and ends up dead and, of course, Flavia is right in the middle of the mystery. Flavia's biggest problem ends up being the sheer number of people who had reason to want the puppeteer dead.

I love these books. They're great little mysteries (cozy mysteries). They're humorous, Flavia is enchanting and the stories are well written. Some people might worry that they'd have a hard time believing an eleven year old could solve murders but Flavia is believable. She's like a younger version of Nancy Drew. If you're a plain old mystery reader, you need to be reading these books. ( )
  melrailey | Apr 7, 2020 |
Showing 1-5 of 247 (next | show all)
The secret of the novel’s charm involves the way in which Flavia teeters on the border between precocity and childishness, spouting faux-cynical epithets that result from the fact that her intellectual gifts far outpace her emotional capacity.
All in all, it’s a perfectly detailed and credible English village in the Agatha Christie manner, inhabited by people you can believe in and sympathize with.

» Add other authors

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Bradley, Alanprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Aldred, SophieNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Aspen, NinaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Beck, LauraTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Bronswijk, Ineke vansecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Entwistle, JayneNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Goudy, Frederic WilliamTypeface designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Hobbing, DianeDesignersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Jung, GeraldÜbersetzersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Montgomery, JoeCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Orgaß, KatharinaÜbersetzersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Sawatzki, AndreaSprechersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Sullivan, SimonCartographersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Turró Armengol, AnnaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Sir Walter Raleigh To His Son

Three things there be that prosper up apace,
And flourish while they grow asunder far;
But on a day, they meet all in a place,
And when they meet, they one another mar.

And they be these; the Wood, the Weed, the Wag;
The Wood is that that makes the gallows tree;
the Weed is that that strings the hangman's bag;
The Wag, my pretty knave, betokens thee.

Now mark, dear boy -- while these assemble not,
Green springs the tree, hemp grows, the wag is wild;
But when they meet, it makes the timber rot,
It frets the halter, and it chokes the child.
Again, for Shirley
First words
I was lying dead in the churchyard.
"Children ought to be horsewhipped," she used to say, "unless they are going in for politics or the Bar, in which case they ought in addition to be drowned."
"Fetch my luggage, Clarence," she said, "and mind the alligator."
Seen from the air, the male mind must look rather like the canals of Europe, with ideas being towed along well-worn towpaths by heavy-footed dray horses. There is never any doubt that they will, despite wind and weather, reach their destination by following a simple series of connected lines.
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