The Weed That Strings the Hangman's Bag - Alan Bradley

Title: The Weed That Strings the Hangman's Bag
Author: Alan Bradley
Pages: 368
Published: 2010
Genre: Fiction, Mystery
Challenges: 2013 TBR Pile Challenge
Edition: Paperback
Source: Personal

Description: Eleven-year-old Flavia de Luce didn’t intend to investigate another murder — but then, Rupert Porson didn’t intend to die. When the master puppeteer’s van breaks down in the village of Bishop’s Lacey, Flavia is front and centre to help Rupert and his charming assistant, Nialla, put together a performance in the local church to help pay the repair bill. But even as the newcomers set up camp and set the stage for Jack and the Beanstalk, there are signs that something just isn’t right: Nialla’s strange bruises and solitary cries in the churchyard, Rupert’s unexplained disappearances and a violent argument with his BBC producer, the disturbing atmosphere at Culverhouse Farm, and the peculiar goings-on in nearby Gibbet Wood — where young Robin Ingleby was found hanging just five years before.

It’s enough to set Flavia’s detective instincts tingling and her chemistry lab humming. What are Rupert and Nialla trying to hide? Why are Grace and Gordon Ingleby, Robin’s still-grieving parents, acting so strangely? And what does Mad Meg mean when she says the Devil has come back to Gibbet Wood? Then it’s showtime for Porson’s Puppets at St. Tancred’s — but as Nialla plays Mother Goose, Rupert’s goose gets cooked as the victim of an electrocution that is too perfectly planned to be an accident. Someone had set the stage for murder.

Putting down her sister-punishing experiments and picking up her trusty bicycle, Gladys, Flavia uncovers long-buried secrets of Bishop’s Lacey, the seemingly idyllic village that is nevertheless home to a madwoman living in its woods, a prisoner-of-war with a soft spot for the English countryside, and two childless parents with a devastating secret. While the local police do their best to keep up with Flavia in solving Rupert’s murder, his killer may pull Flavia in way over her head, to a startling discovery that reveals the chemical composition of vengeance. (via

Thoughts: I enjoyed this one, but probably not as much as I liked the first book. Maybe it was the fact that the book seemed to take awhile for the action in the book to start up and seemed to be a bit dry for a bit.  Oh, it wasn't that I wasn't intrigued with how the book was going to play out, it was just that since the first book the action was rather quick from the get-go, that I was expecting the action to start right away.  Flavia of course was up to her regular schemes and sometimes I wonder if her father should have kept a closer eye on her and what she was doing and whenever her mom was mentioned, I was curious if there was anything more that would lead us to know if Harriet is still alive, which I think she still is, and if she really is Flavia's mom, I still wonder if she is.  Overall, the book was good and well written and makes me want to see a movie version of the books come to the screen.

Bottom line: Recommend the book to those that have read the first book, as a number of the characters that are mentioned are introduced in the first book, even though it could be read as a stand-alone.

Rating: 4/5

Pages for 2013: 2312


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