A Red Herring Without Mustard - Alan Bradley
Author: Alan Bradley
Genre: Historical Fiction, Mystery
Challenges: Historical Fiction, Off the Shelf, TBR Pile, Embarrassment of Riches
Source: Personal Collection
Description: “You frighten me,” the old Gypsy woman says. “Never have I seen my crystal ball so filled with darkness.” So begins eleven-year-old Flavia de Luce’s third adventure through the charming but deceptively dark byways of the village of Bishop’s Lacey. The fortune teller also claims to see a woman who is lost and needs help to get home—and Flavia knows it must be her mother Harriet, who died when Flavia was less than a year old. The Gypsy’s vision opens up old wounds for our precocious yet haunted heroine, and sets her mind racing in search of what it could mean.
When Flavia later goes to visit the Gypsy at her encampment, she certainly doesn’t expect to find the poor old woman lying near death in her caravan, bludgeoned in the wee hours. Was it an act of retribution by those who thought that the woman had abducted a local child years before? Certainly Flavia understands the bliss of settling scores; revenge is a delightful pastime when one has two odious older sisters. But how can she prove this crime is connected to the missing baby? Did it have something to do with the weird sect who met at the river to practice their secret rites?
While still pondering the possibilities, Flavia stumbles upon a corpse—that of a notorious layabout and bully she had only recently caught prowling about Buckshaw. The body hangs from a statue of Poseidon in Flavia’s very own backyard, and our unflappable sleuth knows it’s up to her to figure out the significance. Pedalling her faithful bicycle, Gladys, across the countryside in search of clues to both crimes, Flavia uncovers secrets both long-buried and freshly stowed—the dodgy dealings of a local ironworks, the truth behind the Hobblers’ secret meetings, her own ancestor’s ambitious plans—all the while exhausting the patience of Inspector Hewitt. But it’s not long before the evidence starts falling into place, and Flavia must take drastic action to prevent another violent attack. (via Goodreads.com)
Thoughts: As one could well imagine, I also loved this one again. While there is more of Flavia's chemistry wizardry in this book, it isn't as much as the first two books, but you do get is more of her curiosity about the world around her and how she will do anything to get at the truth, even if it does meaning having to lie from time to time in order to solve the crime. Once again I could hardly get myself away from the book and finished the book in less than a week and somehow I am eagerly anticipating reading the next book, but I do have other books to read.
Bottom line: While it is a part of a series, you can read the book as a stand-alone and still enjoy it just much.
Pages for 2013: 5094