My feelings for Flavia DeLuce haven’t changed since I read The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie. I certainly don’t consider myself a hardcore mystery lover, mostly because I can almost hear my brain creaking as it makes the sudden stops and quick reversals necessary to keep up with a complicated whodunnit. Although the Flavia DeLuce stories are most decidedly mysteries, I obviously read them for their wit and characterization. The Weed That Strings the Hangman’s Bag is no exception. The mystery itself revolves a love affair gone bad and, of all things, a puppeteer who is most likely not on the up and up. As usual, I mostly didn’t see the resolution coming at all. In the case of these mysteries I think it’s more because I’m too busy enjoying Bradley‘s style to pick up on any clues. Truthfully, I don’t care that I don’t see it coming; I enjoy the prose too much! Here are a few samples of what I love so much about his writing:
Far above my head, countless beams of sunshine slanting in through the open ports dappled the curving walls with dots of yellow light. It was as if I had stepped into the colander in which some giant strained his soup bones. (80)
Isn’t that a delicious description?
Requiem? I thought. Do I really want to scramble up into a brick cell with a woman who is at best more than a little inebriated , at worst a homicidal maniac?
I hauled myself up into the gloom. (81)
Flavia’s moxie is what makes her my favorite eleven year old sleuth. I’m sure I’ll get back to Flavia sooner or later, when I’m in need of a bit of mental stimulation in the form of an eleven year old chemist who also solves mysteries before the adults in her life have even picked up on the first clue. That she shows a vulnerable side once in a while caught me by surprise in this story, but I’m coming to like her family more and more, too, thanks to this new insight. Flavia gets high marks in my book. (Delacorte, 2010)