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Flavia de Luce Mysteries By: Alan Bradley March 19, 2010

Posted by lycan librarian in book reviews, Books and reading.
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     Alan Bradley has created a fascinating character in 11-year-old Flavia de Luce, and it is no wonder that his book which introduced her, THE SWEETNESS AT THE BOTTOM OF THE PIE, won the Crime Writers’ Association Debut Daggar Award. Flavia is a young genius obsessed with poisons and death, and has taken charge of her deceased Great-Uncle Tar’s chemistry lab, which sits in the seldom used southeast corner of her family’s old Victorian mansion. In it, she solves crimes that baffle the local police. Her sisters, who both also have a morbid streak running through them, tell her she was adopted, and that their mother never liked her, but in the second book in the series, Aunt Felicity tells Flavia that she is exactly like her mother, in all ways. Daphne, or Daffy, is the middle sister, and enjoys dark reading matter. She seems a kindred spirit to Flavia, as she had trained her eyes to both bulge and drift in opposite directions, but won’t share the secrets of this trick with her younger sister. The Lycan Librarian is hoping the two will grow closer as the series progresses, and perhaps merge their unusual talents. The oldest sister, Ophelia, is a lost cause who is focused on trivial matters such as boys and looking pretty.

     The title of the second book in this young adult series, alone, gives you reason to read it. In THE WEED THAT STRINGS THE HANGMAN’S BAG, Flavia solves not just one murder, but two, that turn out to be related, although separated in time.  The family is in a bad way, financially, and seem to be near losing their dear estate. But this reader trusts that the ingenious Flavia will find a way to save the family home, perhaps by liquidating some of her father’s coins, stamps or another of the many collections the family seems so compelled to stow away as if a flock of magpies hoarding shiny findings.

     The Lycan Librarian is, as always, unwilling to reveal too much of the plot, so will tell you simply that a traveling puppeteer and a madwoman who lives in the woods are central to the story of this second Flavia de Luce Mystery. That tidbit, in itself, should give you ample reason to pick up this charming book and read it with a cup of tea at your elbow.

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