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The Weed That Strings the Hangman's Bag…

The Weed That Strings the Hangman's Bag (FLAVIA DE LUCE MYSTERY) (edition 2011)

by Alan Bradley

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Second in the Flavia de Luce mystery series featuring an 11-year-old girl as the sleuth. A travelling puppeteer and his glamorous assistant become stranded in Bishop's Lacey when their van breaks down. Not having enough ready cash to get it fixed it's soon decided that they'll put on a show as payment in kind and Flavia is soon tasked with lending a helping hand. A case of soon-to-be motherhood soon comes to light and while a child born out of wedlock was quite shocking for the time it is rapidly trumped by murder. Flavia, of course, decides her help is required to further the police investigation. She also becomes embroiled in a mystery from 5 years previous when a young boy was found hanging in a tree in Gibbet Wood. Was it death by misadventure as the inquest ruled or something more?

If this was another old dear investigates type of story then I doubt I'd be too bothered with this series but the use of a precocious young girl as the protagonist has me utterly charmed. Seeing events and people's interactions through Flavia's eyes is an excellent choice to explore life in a small English village of that time. The pace that the story unfolds is perfect and the characters that surround Flavia have enough depth to add to the tale without getting in the way of it. I look forward to learning more of this young detective and watching her grow throughout the rest of the series. ( )
  AHS-Wolfy | Nov 20, 2015 |
Flavia is once again in fine form in this, the second of the Flavia de Luce mysteries. The action is set in Bishop’s Lacey and involves a travelling puppeteer and his female assistant. Flavia is involved with this slightly shady couple from the minute that they hit town. Of course, Flavia is instrumental in solving the murder with her nosiness and braininess. Included in the mystery are various eccentric characters that readers of English village mysteries are used to running across.

I am still charmed by Flavia and her chemistry both the scientific kind and the way that she reacts to the people around her as well as their reactions to her. On to the next in the series sooner rather than later, I think.
  Familyhistorian | Nov 14, 2015 |
I really enjoyed the first Flavia de Luce Mystery, The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie, so much that I was very anxious for this book, The Weed that Strings the Hangman's Bag to come out. I found this book to be just as enjoyable as the first one. I loved to hear about 11-year-old Flavia's sleuthing adventures and her travels with her bicycle, Gladys. She is such an interesting character, and it is also interesting to observe other characters through her eyes as well as learn about the community she lives in (an English country village, shortly after World War II). The author has explained that one reason why he chose an 11-year-old girl is because she can observe things and people without many people taking her too seriously or being too aware of her, and that is part of the enjoyment of this book. It is not necessary to read The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie before you read this book, but I recommend that you do so you get a better understanding of Flavia's character. As far as the mystery is concerned, I think the mystery in The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie and how it unfolds is more suspenseful than the mystery in The Weed that Strings the Hangman's Bag and how it unfolds. On the other hand, this book isn't only about the mystery, and that is its strength -- it is about the characters and the community and how they interact with each other. I really hope the next book is not too long in coming.

By the way, I listened to both books on audio, and I really liked the narrator and the drama and humor her narration added to the story. ( )
  writerfidora | Oct 26, 2015 |
For an 11-year-old, Flavia de Luce is quite the brilliant chemist and aficionado of poisons. She is also a damned good sleuth. This book is a sheer delight. The entire family- hell, the whole town- is quirky and lovable. The action is compelling. The dialogue is priceless. I laughed out loud on more occasions than I should admit. I was sad to reach the end of the book.

If you have not met this wonderful cast of characters, drop everything and pick up the first in the series. And of course you will then dive straight into this installment. Highly recommended. ( )
  enemyanniemae | Oct 6, 2015 |
This is the second book in the Flavia de Luce mystery series. Yes, the idea of a precocious 11 year old girl helping the police solve another murder does sound a bit absurd, but somehow Alan Bradley has created an enchanting character, whose antics are designed to make you smile. Flavia and her odd family live in a run down estate. She hops on her bicycle and is off hunting for clues when she is not in her chemistry lab analyzing evidence or creating potions to poison her sisters, Ophelia and Daphne. (she only poisons them a little bit). The story takes place in 1950's England, and is filled with interesting characters and lots of humor. In this installment, we have a murdered puppeteer and another unsolved mystery involving a young boy. The narrator in the audio version is very good, as she takes on the persona of the 11 year old Flavia.

January 2015 ( )
  NanaCC | Jul 26, 2015 |
Showing 1-5 of 201 (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 (24 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Bradley, Alanprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Aspen, NinaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Entwistle, JayneNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Goudy, Frederic WilliamTypeface designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Hobbing, DianeDesignersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Montgomery, JoeCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Sullivan, SimonCartographersecondary 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.
COPYRIGHT PAGE NOTICE (for Mystery Guild reprint, presumably also the Delacorte Press hardcover edition):

The Weed That Strings the Hangman's Bag is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.
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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.… (more)

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