A Red Herring Without Mustard – An Alan Bradley Mystery

Move over Nancy Drew; Flavia de Luce is on the case.  Alan Bradley’s A Red Herring Without Mustard is another exciting adventure for the eleven year old British sleuth with a talent for chemistry and for finding dead bodies.  The third in the detective series by the seventy year old Canadian author, this one has Flavia solving an attack on an old gypsy, researching a gruesome death, and tracking the forgery of antiques.

If a mystery could be called charming, this is it.  When not weaving through her English village on her trusty bicycle, named Gladys, Flavia is cooking up chemical recipes to torture her older sisters – who reciprocate, as older sisters do, yet still keep a loving eye on their motherless youngest sibling.  Father is off with his stamp collection,  trying to balance the books to pay the bills, and selling the family antiques to keep the home fires burning.

Lots of red herrings, but Flavia keeps the plot and the possible murderers straight by conveniently rethinking the possibilities, listing all the suspects, and recapping the action a number of times throughout the book.  This still did not help me solve the murder, or keep track of all the frumpy old ladies.

Flavia may be eleven, but this is a book for adults.  If you can patiently wade through the village connections, the family friends,  the sisterly hijinks,  and the chemical concoctions, you will find a satisfying solution to the mysteries, an entertaining read, and some great Flavia- isms you might be tempted to use…

“…if rudeness was not attibutable to ignorance, it could be taken as a sure sign that one was speaking to a member of the artistocracy.”

” {the} thought-stalking…technique…”

I thought I had read Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie, Bradley’s first in this series, but it must have been before I started to record and review – so, if I did, I’ve forgotten it.  Not to risk picking it up and remembering halfway through, I’ve decided to play it safe and read the second in the series: The Weed That Strings The Hangman’s Bag.

I like Flavia de Luce and look forward to another adventure – pretending I am eleven again and cycling alongside her and Gladys.

4 thoughts on “A Red Herring Without Mustard – An Alan Bradley Mystery

  1. I also love Flavia and just finished The Weed That Strings the Hangman’s Bag over the weekend, as it so happens. I’m just waiting for A Red Herring to come out in paperback before I read it (subway commutes and hardback books rarely go together for me). Glad to hear this one is just as charming as its predecessors!

    • I get mine from the library, but will look for “The Weed…” in paperback. I read somewhere that there are 5 in the series – hope that’s true.

      • I am dropping by your site after receiving your comment about the book “Art of Racing in the Rain.” I’m delighted that you are also a busy borrower at the public library. I took back some books today, but my list remains over 50 items long!

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