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

by Alan Bradley

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2,2902112,779 (4)1 / 345
Recently added byMeganWhobrey, private library, MimiSoot, mirikayla, PamFamilyLibrary, INorris, mcclar, thukpa
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Showing 1-5 of 215 (next | show all)
I have to say, Alan Bradley's ability to evoke a time and place is simply amazing. Whether I enjoyed the mystery or not I would probably read this series just for the opportunity to escape to these small towns in 1950s England.

IF you adored the SWEETNESS AT THE BOTTOM OF THE PIE I hardly think you need me to urge you on to read Flavia #2. However, if you are like me and somewhat on the line as to whether to continue, let me give you a little nudge to go ahead and pick this book up too. First, there's the time-and-place enjoyment as I mentioned. But I would add to that that I thought the mystery was better done in this book. The story more completed and engaging. Like many series the second book in the series has it's firm footing and it has room to expand and grow; so do read it.

Very enjoyable. 4 or 5 Stars or something in between.

~first book of 2016
~library ( )
  PamFamilyLibrary | Feb 7, 2016 |
Flavia de Luce and her beautifully complicated family and town return in the second Bradley mystery, where she must investigate the death of popular puppeteer Rupert Porson, a man far less savory than his sterling reputation indicated. Flavia first meets his girlfriend, Nialla, who travels with Rupert and plays the role of Mother Goose in his puppet shows. Nialla is crying in the graveyard when Flavia encounters her. The feisty Flavia is drawn to this new conundrum, and befriends the weepy woman. Soon after she meets Rupert, a handsome man who was crippled by polio when he was a child. Even though Rupert Porson is famous, Flavia's family doesn't own a television, and she doesn't recognize him. She also doesn't like him. Flavia quickly pegs Rupert as a bully with a hot temper, and her intuition is confirmed by the bruises she spots on Nialla. Since the pair of them are camped out in the church graveyard, they soon meet the Vicar, and Flavia eavesdrops as Rupert explains that they were dong a travelling puppet show and their van broke down near the church. The Vicar welcomes them to stay until someone can repair the van, and helpfully suggests that they put on a puppet show show in Bishop's Lacey, both to repay him for his help and to earn money for van repairs. Rupert agrees.

As Flavia helps the puppeteers set up their show and arrange their temporary living conditions, grateful for any opportunity to escape her visiting Aunt Felicity, she finds the whole situation complicated by the Inglebys and their tragic history. Gordon and Grace Ingleby lost their son many years ago when he hung himself in the woods. He was only five. Rupert and Nialla are invited to camp on their land, and Flavia discovers that Rupert has an interesting connection to Gordon. Gordon grows marijuana in a clearing in Gibbet's Wood, the forest that borders their farm, the same wood where they found Robin's hanging body, and Rupert is one of his customers. Flavia learns more about Grace, as well, a mother who is so grief-stricken from the loss of her only son that she isn't quite in right in her mind. The strange connection between Rupert and the Inglebys is strengthened on the day of the first puppet show in Bishop's Lacey. Rupert and Nialla are putting on Jack the Giant Killer, and when the Jack puppet trots on stage everyone is instantly aware that it is the very image of little dead Robin. With all these strange circumstances converging and gathering weight, it is no surprise to the reader when Rupert Porson ends up dead, murdered by electrocution during the climactic scene in his own show.

Of course, Flavia sets right to work in her investigations. She is miffed that Inspector Hewitt doesn't quickly take her on as a partner, and only divulges a few facts to the police. For instance, she doesn't tell them that Nialla is pregnant, or that Gordon is growing illegal drugs, or that she suspects this murder has something to do with poor Robin's death many years ago. Most people don't expect an eleven-year-old child to be as perceptive and intuitive as Flavia, so she is able to worm her way into places or confidences that are off limits to the police. Throw in her astounding talent in chemistry and natural science, and Flavia is a formidable foe. Her character certainly carries the book. She is a unique and delightful detective, and Bradley does a wonderful job capturing the voice of a precocious child with a propensity for chemical revenge. Flavia's strong characterization is not the only stand-out element in the book. Her family is full of individualized, likable, and fully realized people. Their stoic demeanor in face of a deep family tragedy only makes me want to know more about that hole in their lives, their mother Harriet, and prompts me to suppose that some future book will explore these details more fully. Furthermore, Bishop's Lacey is beautifully depicted as a quaint little city with an old-time feel, and it is chock-full of quirky and intriguing people. All around, Bradley has a deft hand at creating characters. Finally, the mystery here is solid. It realistically incorporates the old tragedy, it offers a nice array of suspects, and it provides the clues for Flavia and the reader to follow to its tragic conclusion. The second addition to the Flavia de Luce series is satisfying and lives up to the precedent set by the first novel. I am officially hooked on this series. ( )
  nmhale | Feb 3, 2016 |
I have to say, Bradley has an incredible imagination, and is the king of simile. This series is just full of such creative detail. I fell asleep a couple of times while listening (no fault of the authors) and had to back track a little which left me a little out of sync, but this is a fun series when you are looking for something entertaining. ( )
  MaureenCean | Feb 2, 2016 |
Once again, Flavia de Luce proves to be one of my favorite characters. She is so tenacious, bold and witty that you can't help but love her (and despise her sisters just as much!). Here she is on the case again, always at the right place at the right time, and with the right resources.

The mystery and family dynamics blend well in this, the second of the Flavia de Luce Mystery series. I adore the sisterly spats between the three girls, with Flavia's love of chemistry (and especially poisons) taking it to a hilarious level. Her sisters know where to push her buttons, and she knows the chemical configurations to make them pay for it. Like the first book, this one contains a small thread of revenge that plays out throughout the book. A bit of a mystery-within-a-mystery.

We meet several more characters of Bishop's Lacey, and another member of the de Luce family. We also learn more about deceased mother, Harriett. The stories are perfectly standalone while building on the former. Just perfectly done, in my opinion.

Like any mystery, the book is character-heavy, but Bradley is such a great storyteller that the reader is familiar with each and the flow of the mystery is wonderfully fluid. The use of red herrings is pure perfection and slight twists and turns are very satisfying.

This entire series is highly recommended. ( )
  CarmenMilligan | Jan 18, 2016 |
I'm giving this a 2.5 because although I liked the basic story there were more things that I didn't like:

I didn't like Flavia's "voice". It is Not true to life for any 11 year old....it is the author's voice and condescending.

The chemistry was interesting but too detailed for a non-chemist like myself.

There were Three (3) derogatory comments regarding Native American's that were most unnecessary. I was able to pass off the first as ignorant, but the second & third showed an actively ignorant attitude on the author's part.

Some of the characters were uneven, especially Nialla and Flavia's Aunt.

I read this book because I had read the previous one and had hoped that he'd work Flavia's character out to be more believable.....I guess that didn't happen, so I doubt that I'll read the next one. ( )
  Auntie-Nanuuq | Jan 18, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 215 (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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Epigraph
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.
Dedication
Again, for Shirley
First words
I was lying dead in the churchyard.
Quotations
"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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