I love Flavia de Luce, the 11-year-old budding chemist living in the small village of Bishop’s Lacey in post-WWII England. Flavia uses her natural curiosity and scientific knowledge to solve murders. In The Weed That Strings the Hangman’s Bag, Flavia works to solve both the murder of a puppeteer. She soon finds it’s related somehow to the mysterious death of a young boy in her village that happened 5 years ago. This is the second book in the series, and it seems to take place very soon after the first.
I had trouble getting into The Weed That Strings the Hangman’s Bag. The puppeteer/murder victim is unpleasant, but once he was dead I got a lot more interested. The murder is quite dramatic (this was the second book I read this summer where somebody died during a performance of Jack and the Giant Beanstalk, which was kind of odd). I also found that I had trouble getting the climactic scene out of my head–for a YA book, it was extremely creepy!
The Flavia de Luce series, like any good mystery series, is about more than just solving murders. Flavia’s mother died when she was very young, and she is being raised by her inattentive father. She has two older sisters who vary between being cruel and indifference toward her. The real kindness in her life comes from her father’s loyal servant, Dogger. Dogger, a veteran with PTSD, obviously cares a lot about Flavia. There are several people in Flavia’s world who inspire empathy in the reader, but none moreso than Dogger and Flavia herself. The death of her mother has been briefly discussed in both books so far in the series, and I’m sure it’s going to play a larger role as the series goes on.
This is a series that I will return to, but not one that I feel compelled to read through quickly. It’s nice filler when I need something entertaining and funny.