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gertrude

December 2018

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Flavia, Young Chemist



Don’t you think this title would fit well alongside Jean Becomes a Nurse, Judith Teaches and Margaret Becomes a Doctor? Yes, precociously gifted Flavia de Luce is back in another mystery story, The Weed That Strings the Hangman's Bag. I loved the first Flavia de Luce book, The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie and have been looking forward to the next one ever since.

It’s bound to lack the excitement of meeting eleven year old prodigy Flavia for the first time but doesn’t disappoint in any other way. A performance by a touring puppet showman ends with one of those on-stage deaths which many detective writers have used so effectively. I like Overture to Death by Ngaio Marsh, for instance. Flavia instantly detects the cause of death and by using trusty Gladys (her bicycle) and her extensive local knowledge, beats the police to solving what turns out to be a double mystery.

Gladys belonged to Flavia’s mother, Harriet, as did the unused Rolls Royce Phantom which lives in the coach house. In this book, visiting Aunt Felicity tells Flavia that she is *exactly* like her mother. This surprises the child, since she has often been told by her heartless elder sisters that she was adopted or, alternatively, that her mother couldn’t stand the sight of her and so killed herself. We know from the first book that Harriet died mountaineering in Tibet and that Colonel de Luce has never got over her death. Then there’s faithful Dogger, who dotes on Flavia and obviously knows more than he ever lets on. Looks like there’s plenty more to come on this story.

I loved the book and am sorry all over again that it will be a year before there’s another to read.

Comments

It is a treat, and like you, I'm impatient for the next one.
I re-read the first book before starting this one and loved it just as much the second time.

(Anonymous)

Alan Bradley

I actually have a copy of Jean Becomes a Nurse!
Margaret P

Re: Alan Bradley

Hee, me too!
Feel exactly the same! I'm going to save the rest of it for the train journey up to London, but what a treat it is!
I admire your restraint!
I absolutely loved it as well and can hardly wait for Flavia's next adventure.
It's so great to find a new author. He deserves the success of these books.