The Weed that Strings the Hangman’s Bag
by Alan Bradley
Flavia de Luce returns in this sequel to the extraordinary The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie. Once again, the precocious tween tracks a killer through the countryside of her English town. When a famous BBC puppeteer comes to town, everyone is excited to have a show in the church. However, when he’s electrocuted during the performance, Flavia is on the case, with her chemistry and her sneaky sycophantic act.
- While Bradley tells another solid story (with a well-crafted countryside murder), the book isn’t quite as good as the last one, if for no other reason than that it doesn’t really do anything new. A book like this really challenges the question of whether mysteries ought to be in series or not.
- The mystery of the murdered puppeteer is compelling, but a little less so than was the murder in the last book, as Flavia’s family is not directly implicated.
- Once again, the book confirms my suspicion that British towns have seething underbellies of secret passions and nasty secrets. Londoners are downright open books when compared with their judgmental, small-town cousins.
An enjoyable return of a great character, and well worth a read if you enjoyed the first book in the series. That said, I would probably wait at least a year in between the two, as they are very similar.
See also: The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie