The Weed That Strings the Hangman’s Bag, by Alan Bradley

I read and enjoyed The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie way back in October, and I was delighted that there would be a sequel! I actually got my hands on a copy the day it was released, but various school- and work-related happenings meant I couldn’t read it until it was well overdue to the library. Ah, well. So it goes.

The plot is thus: a travelling puppet show breaks down in Flavia’s village and she makes friends with one of the pair, to whom the other of the pair is acting atrocious. The village’s vicar invites the puppeteer to put on a show in town to make some money for the repairs of his vehicle, and Flavia ends up helping to prepare the show while spending her spare time being incredibly snoopy into the pair’s affairs. Eventually a Terrible Thing happens and Flavia sets to solving the mystery.

It’s hard to summarize this second mystery novel, as it is kind of short on the mystery… I mean, there’s talk of what ends up being the mystery early on, but no one new dies until nearly halfway through the book, at which point I thought that the story would pick up but it didn’t, really. And when the mystery was all wrapped up I wasn’t sure that I, as the reader, had been shown enough clues to have figured out the mystery myself, which always makes me cranky. But for the most part, this book is less mystery and more “let’s put a bit more backstory into Bishop’s Lacey,” which is all well and good but I wish I had been warned.

However, the writing is still fun and Flavia is still delightfully focused on her chemistry, so it’s not all bad. I was thoroughly engrossed in reading the book once I had a chance to sit down and do so, and I am intrigued to see where Bradley goes in the next book, which he is apparently already writing. As long as he doesn’t rely too much on precociousness and science to woo me (which, well, it does), I think the series could do very well.

Rating: 6/10
(Countdown Challenge: 2010, Orbist Terrarum Cahllenge: Canada, Support Your Local Library Challenge)

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Pass me yours, if you’ve got ’em.

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3 thoughts on “The Weed That Strings the Hangman’s Bag, by Alan Bradley

  1. Carina says:

    I had the same issue with the pacing – it felt like nothing really happened until halfway through the book. I had never read The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie, so I found that the first part of the book, where Flavia is mostly giving more depth to the setting, simply dragged. If you want to read more of what I thought, my review is here.

  2. Alison says:

    Carina β€” The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie seemed to me to move a lot faster, or at the very least the mystery gets going right away, which is I think the important part!

    Kerri β€” I agree! I love Flavia and I definitely want to read more about her… but give me a mystery, too! πŸ™‚

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