Wednesday, 30 December 2015

A Red Herring Without Mustard by Alan Bradley

This was my least favourite of the Flavia de Luce stories so far.  It felt as though she was out of her depth and barely treading water.  It all started with a trip to the local fair where somehow the gypsy fortune teller`s tent burns down as a result of Flavia`s visit. Then the same gypsy is visciously attacked on the de Luce property.  This violence doesn`t deter eleven year old Flavia from investigating.

Most children this age would be happy to stay at home and play or read, but not her, she is constantly out and about in her home town aboard her faithful stead, or rather her bicycle name Gladys.  (yes, she`s still a lonely little girl who has named her bicylcle) She pokes her nose into every day space and doesn`t hesitate to turn over even the heaviest rock in the expectation of finding secrets.

I particularly enjoyed the sections where Flavia reflects on her relationship with her sisters.  She is growing up and learning that her sisters are much more than just bigger people who seem to torture her.

The Hobblers, a religious sect  in the book, appear to be fashioned after historical  English dissenters.  My research didn`t locate any group actually named the Hobblers.

For me, the mysteries that Flavia explored were second place to the continuing story of her dead mother.  Each book has revealed tiny bits about her.  She is still an unknown figure who`s absence  is a major influence on the young girl`s life.  I do hope that we learn more about her in future books in this series.

I listened to the audio book version as read by Jane Entwistle, unabridged 11 hours. 

Flavia de Luce Stories:

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

Author Alan Bradley`s website

Cover image used courtesy of Penguin Random House Audio Publishing.

1 comment:

Marie said...

Nice review, Heather. I read this book awhile ago and really enjoyed it. I, too, think that the individual mysteries are secondary to the characters and the continuing stories.

I hope you enjoy the other books in the series.