A Red Herring Without Mustard by Alan Bradley


MysteryA Red Herring Without Mustard by Alan Bradley

A Red Herring Without MustardC. Alan Bradley; Delacorte Press 2011WorldCatWhen Flavia de Luce is responsible for setting a gypsy’s tent on fire, she invites the old woman to bring her caravan to one of the family’s meadows to recuperate. To get there, they pass a woman who screams at the old gypsy, Mrs. Faa, accusing her of stealing her dead baby. Flavia gets the gypsy settled in, then returns to her home, planning to ask her father for permission for what she’s just done.

In the middle of the night, Flavia decides to go visit the gypsy woman. She discovers the woman in a pool of blood. Someone bashed her on the head. Because of Flavia’s quick actions, Mrs. Faa is still alive when they get her to the hospital.

Also Flavia finds a house breaker in the middle of the night. The man is a notorious layabout around their village. He has a good explanation, but Flavia doesn’t forget – nor does she tell. Then there is the old religious cult that still seems to exist in their village. It’s a strange fire and brimstone type of religion.

Once again Flavia de Luce, the precocious 11-year-old sticks her nose into places most children would avoid. She’s too curious to stay away. If she sees a dead body hanging from a statue, she has to climb up and check it out before she calls the police. If the gypsy’s granddaughter shows up, Flavia has to hide her away. Her biggest problem is her own sisters. Her mother disappeared when she was small, presumably dead in the Himalayan mountains. She doesn’t remember her mother, and is jealous that her sisters can.

This time Flavia’s exploits are believable. When she is terrorized by her sisters she’s once again the little girl you’d expect at her age. Alan Bradley uses Flavia’s first person voice to tell these mysteries. A Red Herring Without Mustard is clever. The mystery has many threads that all tie together in the end. There are three stories going on at once – one with the gypsies, one with the townspeople, and one with Flavia and her family.

This is a good read, building a good mystery quietly, resolving it quietly. A Red Herring Without Mustard is a good British mystery, fitting it’s time period (early 50’s) and the traditions on which Bradley’s work is based – Agatha Christie, P.G. Wodehouse, Ngaio Marsh, etc.

More books by Alan Bradley
Flavia DeLuce Series at Stop! You’re Killing Me!

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