Saturday, 12 May 2012

The Weed that Strings the Hangman's Bag by Alan Bradley

Flavia de Luce is one young lady that I would enjoy being an acquaintance of.  Not too close a friend though, as she does seem to have the habit of attempting to poison those closest to her.  It is quite surprising the lengths and eleven year old will go to when she has a penchant for retribution.  I wouldn't want to be her sisters Ophelia and Daphne.

The opening of the second installment in the Flavia de Luce Mysteries held me in rapt attention.  I listened and couldn't believe the apparent turn of events in Flavia's life.  Since I was on the highway, I couldn't easily stop and ensure that I was at the start of the story and hadn't somehow set the player to once again to shuffle.  I kept listening and my confusion soon cleared.  Flavia was just being Flavia.  I shouldn't have been concerned.

Rupert Porson and his assistant/companion Nialla have arrived in Bishop's Lacy and their van is in dire need of repair.  The ever helpful vicar suggests that while they are awaiting the garage, perhaps they could be hired to perform a puppet show for the entertainment of those in the village.  Listening to Jayne Entwistle read this book, had me totally convinced that I was truly attending the puppet show of Jack and the Beanstalk.  I felt as though I had been transported in the church hall along with the dozens of other residents.  I was almost sorry when the show was over and the story continued.
Author Alan Bradley has assembled a quirky group of village residents.  Dogger is haunted by events from the war.  Aunt Felicity is not the senile old bitty that I was expecting. Rather she is most perceptive to what really makes Flavia tick.  Mad Meg who lives in the woods shows up whenever she is not expected, but who is she really.  The Undertaker, the vicar and the ladies that run the candy shop and the teas shop with it's feisty samovar could all become favourites with me.  I want to start reading the next book right away to find out if any other characters move to the plot forefront.

I found the first part of this book a bit slow.  I kept waiting for something to happen, but instead we learned more about various characters and how they might be associated with each other.  Once the action started, it didn't stop until the last words were spoken.  I have no doubt that my enjoyment of this book was heightened by Ms. Entwistle's reading abilities.    I listened to the version from Books on Tape.  Unabridged  9 hours, 50 minutes.

Cover Photo courtesy of  author Alan Bradley.

Other books in the series:

1  The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie
2 The  Weed that Strings the Hangman`s Bag
3  A Red Herring Without Mustard
4  I am Half-Sick of Shadows
5  Speaking fron among the Bones
5.5 The Curious case of the Copper Corpse 
6  The Dead in their Vaulted Arches
7 The Chimney Sweepers Come to Dust

The Candian Book Challenge is hosted by John at The Book Mine Set and runs till Canada Day, July 1, 2012.


Andi said...

I've just finished up the first three books in the OUTLANDER series, and I'm tempted to try the first of the Flavia de Luce books for something a little different. Great review of this one!

Felicity Grace Terry said...

Having loved the first book I've kept meaning to pick up a copy of this, thanks for giving me a nudge.

Jill said...

Isn't Jane Entwistle an amazing audio book reader? I love this series, and I wouldn't ever consider reading the books myself - her narration is so wonderful. I'm just wishing that a new one would come out soon. I love Flavia! (but yeah, I wouldn't want to make her angry!) :-)