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A Red Herring Without Mustard ~ Alan Bradley

February 29, 2012


Genre: Adult Fiction/Mystery
Publisher: Bantam
432 pages
ISBN: Paperback, 9780385343466
Source: Bookstore

Gypsies have always held mysteries, often dark, in literature and folklore. Leave it to Flavia de Luce, everyone’s favorite eleven year old sleuth, to find herself knee-deep in her town’s own gypsy drama. When she befriends an older woman, traveling by caravan, she begins to unearth her own family’s part in the woman’s sadness.

Of course, things get dirtier, as always, and when Flavia’s newfound friend ends up in the hospital under critical condition, it’s our gal to the rescue again. This time, it’s up to her to prove the culprit in the current case and the innocence of the injured woman laying up in medical quarters.

Though this theme has been explored many times before (my most recent recall is from a similar Maisie Dobbs jaunt), each “villagers vs. gypsies” story seems to capture my heart in its own way. Even though Flavia has remained s steady eleven years old throughout the whole series, so far, I can’t help but feel as though she came off as having grown up a bit for this volume. She has always been quite precocious but her empathy and choices, this time around, were not simply those of a child genius, but of some who has truly become more mature. It definitely added to the story.

We also had a few more glimpses than usual, at the late great Harriet de Luce, which gave a bit more body to the family story, especially Colonial de Luce’s part. I’m hoping for a little bit more in this direction in the upcoming additions to the series. Overall, it was a very well done piece and I have to say, once again, that I have been seriously surprised by the quality and depth of these stories. Thanks Alan Bradley!

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4 Comments leave one →
  1. February 29, 2012 6:06 pm

    I have yet to try this series (some have said they didn’t think it was for me) but I really want to try it. I like precocious kid characters! But I’m troubled by the fact that she is 11 in ALL OF THESE BOOKS! Surely she didn’t just bang out all of these mysteries in one year! I could get hung up on that.

  2. February 29, 2012 8:08 pm

    I have only read the first one, but really liked it! I am planning to read the second one soon.

  3. February 29, 2012 10:58 pm

    I read all of the Flavia books but this one. I need to backtrack and read this one.

  4. March 1, 2012 5:40 pm

    I have the first book in this series on audio, and I need to make some time for it. Hopefully I will be able to get to it soon! I am glad that the series continues to impress!

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