A Red Herring Without Mustard ~ Alan Bradley
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!