If anyone were to give either my to be read list or my have read list even a cursory glance, it will become painfully obvious that I thoroughly enjoy mystery novels, especially ones that involve amateur sleuths. I also tend to prefer ones that would be classified as cozy mysteries, that is, no graphic sex or violence, but I have read others that are not cozies. I simply love a good mystery and I'm always on the look out for a new series to satisfy my craving.
I bring all of this up because I just recently finished reading The Weed that Strings the Hangman's Bag by Alan Bradley and I absolutely loved it. This is the second book in his Flavia de Luce series, after The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie. Flavia is unlike any other heroine I have come across, not only because of her age (almost eleven), but also because of her obsession with chemistry and unhealthy interest in poison. And just so we are clear, even though she is a child, these aren't books for children.
Bradley does a fantastic job of breathing life into all of his characters, who are quirky without being caricatures, and with crafting mysteries that a wickedly intelligent and observant child could solve given an absence of parental supervision. And again, these aren't your garden variety safe mysteries, such as who stole a pie off of a kitchen window, but are in fact murder mysteries. Bradley also has a wonderful gift for language and many a turn of phrase in his books have found their way into my daily language. To give you an idea of his writing style here are some examples from Hangman's Bag:
"I have to admit, though, that Cynthia was a great organizer, but then, so were the men with whips who got the pyramids built." (page 31)
"God blind me with a fish fork!" (page 85)
"I wanted to throw my arms around this dotty old bat in her George Bernard Shaw costume and hug her until the juices ran out. But I didn't. I couldn't. I was a de Luce." (page 203)
The books are just wonderful, and I can't believe I have to wait until next year for the third book in the series. I'm hoping to find some other mystery series to tide me over, as I need them in my reading just like I need a nap every once in a while. I highly recommend both of the Flavia de Luce novels to any and all who enjoy a good mystery.