I immediately fell in love with the heroine of the first Flavia de Luce mystery (The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie), the brilliant 11-year-old chemistry whiz, Flavia de Luce. The narrator of the audio books, Jane Entwistle, does such a marvelous job that I wouldn't consider actually reading the books myself - and she continues to dazzle with her narration of this second book. This one is a bit darker than the first, and it gives the reader a good look at the seamy underbelly of what appears on the surface to be a peaceful and charming English village.
In this installment, Flavia makes friends with some traveling puppeteers. Her father has refused to consider purchasing a pointless, newfangled television set, so Flavia is unaware of the fame surrounding the puppetters and their popular show, but when their vehicle breaks down in the village, and they must wait a day or two for it to be repaired, the vicar persuades them to stage a performance there, to the delight of Flavia and the other residents of Bishop's Lacey. A rather gruesome death ensues, and Flavia, with her razor-sharp intellect and obsession with chemistry (particularly poisons), is in a unique position to discover whodunit.
I love that the narrator of this series is only eleven years old, yet the intended audience of these books is adults. What a risky decision for an author to make - but how delightfully it all works! Interesting and likable (and often eccentric) characters fill the pages, as well as characters who are truly disturbing. Flavia's voice is the heart of these books, and she brings Bishop's Lacey and its inhabitants to life with her keen observations and over-the-top descriptions of things. I continue to adore this series, and I look forward to the next installment of Flavia's adventures.
Books in the Flavia de Luce Mystery series:
1. The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie
2. The Weed that Strings the Hangman's Bag
3. A Red Herring without Mustard
4. I Am Half Sick of Shadows (November 2011)
The Weed That Strings the Hangman's Bag (#2 in the Flavia de Luce series) by Alan C. Bradley; narrated by Jane Entwistle (Random House Audio, 2010)