This week I read A Red Herring Without Mustard by Alan Bradley, the third in a series of Flavia de Luce murder mysteries.
I absolutely adore Flavia de Luce. The year is 1950, and the setting is Buckshaw, a sprawling English estate near the small village of Bishop's Lacey. Flavia is the eleven year old and youngest daughter of a widower. The two older daughters, Ophelia, 17, (Feely for short) and Daphne, 14, (Daffy), torment Flavia, as sisters sometimes are wont to do. Each sister has her own passion: Feely is an accomplished pianist. Daffy is a bookworm and loves Victorian fiction. Flavia has taken a liking to her great uncle Tar's chemistry lab in the east wing; Flavia has a passion for poisons! I love nothing better than an eccentric English upper-class family as characters in literature.
"You frighten me," the gypsy said. "Never have I seen my crystal ball so filled with darkness."
This is how the third installment begins. Flavia accidentally catches a gypsy's tent on fire at a fair at Bishop Lacey's Anglican Church, St. Tancred's, after the gypsy references Flavia's mother's tragic death on a mountain in Tibet ten years earlier. Feeling guilty for having destroyed the tent and an afternoon's wages for the gypsy, Flavia feels obligated to help her. She takes the gypsy and her caravan to The Palings, a pretty meadow in the bend of the River Efon on her family's estate. Later, Flavia finds the gypsy bludgeoned almost to death in the caravan, and, within the same day, finds a local n'er do well hanging from Neptune's Triton atop a long-decommissioned fountain at Buckshaw.
Years earlier, the gypsy had been accused of abducting a local infant. Could her bludgeoning be related to this case? Is the murder at Buckshaw also related to the attack on the gypsy? Flavia, with her usual brilliance, sets off on Gladys (her bike) and gathers clues to solve the case. Unfortunately, her tampering with and withholding of evidence aggravates Inspector Hewitt to his wit's end. He requests that the Colonel keep Flavia at home. Will Flavia solve the crimes before someone else is victimized? How can she solve them if she is grounded at Buckshaw?
You can read my post about The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie here. The Dixie Diva Book Club read it last October. I have read all three of the Flavia de Luce novels, and I highly recommend all three. These books are great for readers of all ages.
You can visit Flavia's website here, and Flavia's fan club website is here.
I review books I have read every Friday on my Literary Friday posts. I read at least one book per week, and I only blog about the books I like. Please refer to the archives at the bottom of the sidebar for other Literary Friday posts.
I also want to remind you about the What We're Reading Linky Party Bonnie and I are co-hosting the twentieth of every month. The fun will begin this Sunday, so please join us!
Until next time...