A Red Herring Without Mustard

A Red Herring Without Mustard, by Alan Bradley

I didn't read the first Flavia de Luce story, The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie, so I went into this one blind.  It's a mystery series, but 'modern' in its approach, I think.  It doesn't feel like your usual cozy British mystery, it's a different take.

Flavia is a precocious and unusual eleven-year-old living in a giant crumbling manor house outside her village.  She loves chemistry, and not much else; her family is a mess and the village residents dislike her.  Her sisters are cruel and her father absent through grief at the death of his wife nearly 10 years ago.  Flavia is fascinated by her mother and thwarted in any efforts to get to know about her.  Meanwhile, she likes to investigate the mysteries that come her way.

In this case, the mystery is who attacked an elderly and sick Gypsy woman camping near the river.  Flavia stubbornly investigates, even as the body count goes up and the police warn her off.

I was not all that taken with the story.  I didn't get pulled in, I wasn't wild about the inverted Capture the Castle setting--it just wasn't my thing.  It was kind of interesting, but not in a way that made me want to read more.  Bradley seems to be making a good thing out of the series, though; it looks like there are now five books total and he's producing two a year now.


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