The Weed That Strings the Hangman's Bag - Alan Bradley
Rupert Porson, famous TV puppeteer of Snoddy the Squirrel, has had his van break down in the small English village of Bishop’s Lacey. The whole village is excited to see a performance, and Flavia DeLuce gets to be his assistant while he’s in town! But Rupert is nothing like the kindly image he presents to the public, and it seems he has been around Culverhouse Farm, outside town, before. Flavia, of course, can’t help but poke her nose around.

When one of Rupert’s shows ends with his murder, Flavia can’t help but investigate. Is there a relation to the case of Robin Ingleby, a boy who died mysteriously five years earlier? All signs point to Culverhouse Farm and Gibbett Wood, and Flavia is out to get the truth.

Although a sequel to The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie, The Weed that Strings the Hangman’s Bag largely acts as a standalone novel. Eleven-year-old Flavia is once again a delightful narrator, with her wry observations and amazing ability to manipulate information from adults. As a biologist, I also can’t help but enjoy Flavia’s use of botany and chemistry in her pursuits.

The story has the feel of a traditional English country mystery, and has a much slower pace compared to that of Sweetness. The book spends a great deal of time establishing characters and setting, with the actual murder not occurring until about midway through. The denouement seems a bit rushed unfortunately, but Weed is overall a great mystery. More Flavia please!