63. A Red Herring Without Mustard by Alan Bradley

A Red Herring Without Mustard by Alan Bradley (Canada) - (US)
Flavia de Luce Mysteries, 3

Pages: 378
Ages: 18+
Finished: Mar. 12, 2011
First Published: Feb. 8, 2011
Publisher: Doubleday Canada
Genre: mystery
Rating: 4/5

First sentence:

"You frighten me," the gypsy said. "Never have I seen my crystal ball so filled with darkness."

Acquired: Received a review copy from Random House Canada.

Reason for Reading: next in the series

Oh what a welcome it is indeed to be back amongst Flavia's world, at Buckshaw, her ancestral home in the hamlet of Bishop's Lacey! The mature 11 year old chemist with a special fascination in poisons continues to dodge her two older sisters' tortures and seek revenge against them while once again unwittingly stumbling upon a crime. The gypsy fortune teller, whom Flavia has invited to park her caravan on their extensive property for the night, is found by Flavia in the middle of the night beaten to a bloody pulp but with the flutterings of a pulse. Flavia calls in the police and once again she and Inspector Hewitt run their own separate cases and Flavia outwits him in more ways than one. An 11 year old girl has much more access to villagers for covert questioning than the official police. This story turns into one that will unearth secrets of the past that have been buried for many years, Flavia's own family has secrets that are unearthed and before story's end their is a murder, unfortunately of Flavia's prime suspect, and Flavia rescues someone else from certain death.

Just as expected, Bradley brings forth a top-notch mystery. While it has all the makings of an Agatha Christie, Flavia's mysteries are by no means cozies. With her own macabre sense of character, fascination with poisons and death, she runs into the most unusual crimes with many eerie components. This story involves baby-stealing gypsies, crystal gazings of the future, a man hung from the trident of a huge fountain statue of Poseidon and a strange religious sect started during the 17th century called the Hobblers on account of how they shuffle when they walk. With a large cast of people, suspects, interviewees and witnesses, Bradley manages to make good character development all around. Even on the secondary characters. One thing I'm seeing now that we're into the third book, is some growth in the characters from a writer's point of view. Bradley has managed to flesh out all of the major characters and we really have a feel for them now.

There is only one thing that irks me about this book, and it is a publishing complaint. Nothing to do with the story itself. I have the book in my hands published by Doubleday Canada, written by a Canadian author, story set in Britain and for some ungodly reason we, here in Canada,have been given the American English version. This is a major pet peeve of mine. We speak and write English in Canada, not American. If Canadian publishers can't keep the English language alive in Canada, who will?


  1. This one is a new book for me. Thanks for the post.

  2. I read and loved the first one in this series - and I'm glad to hear you continue to enjoy it. What I totally don't get is why on earth they need to do two versions in the first place. Do they think we Americans are too dumb to figure out British usage? I like the authenticity of the original version. Ack.

  3. I really must get on with this series. I have only read the first book so far.


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