A Review: A Red Herring Without Mustard by Alan Bradley
Alan Bradley's Flavia de Luce series is my go to when I want a fun, fast read. I'm ashamed to admit that I read the first two without supplying a review (I know, I know). Sometimes, like with the Maisie Dobbs series, I want something quick, that I know I'll enjoy, that doesn't require me sitting down for a serious review. But, after thinking about it for a while, I decided that by not reviewing it I was essentially failing at book blogging and telling people about great books. Say to me what you wish...
Flavia de Luce lives in Bishops Lacey, a small, country town in England, on a sprawling, but crumbling, estate (Buckshaw), with her father, two sisters and various housekeepers. When a gypsy appears at the local church festival and Flavia accidentally sets her tent ablaze, she quickly volunteers to help the woman find a place to park her caravan on the miles of property her family owns. When the gypsy is found the next morning, beaten and barely alive, an investigation begins to capture the villain. Flavia discovers an aging cult, a neighborhood thief and more secrets than she imagined along the way.
This summary doesn't really hint at half of what you'll find if you happen to give this one a shot. What I enjoy most about Bradley's style is that he has a way of wrapping multiple story lines into the narrative without taking away from the heart of the mystery. Each apparent break in the main action only adds another layer to the plot and strengthens the story. Furthermore, Flavia's devotion to the world of chemistry (she has her own lab) is not simply a topic mentioned briefly, but one that Bradley uses with great advantage, creating Flavia as flesh and bone, while also displaying his ability to incorporate tons of knowledge and/or research without going overboard. While Flavia can be a real brat, she's also smart, witty and always up for an adventure.
I enjoy this series now, but know I would have loved it as a child as well. It's a book for all ages! While it might not be the most profound, or most modern, it's what reading is all about to me. An entertaining story, well-written, with a developed cast of characters and substance that urges you to read well into the night.
This is one of the titles on my RIP VII list. (2 of 8 completed)