Saturday, November 7, 2015

So Far: Falling for Herring, Mustard, Bradley

Flavia de Luce strikes again.  This time she’s running against the police investigating the bludgeoned near-death of a Gypsy woman.  And if that’s not enough, a town thief finds himself hanging from a statue with a lobster fork gouged up a nostril.  Gruesome business indeed.  And especially for a pre-teen English girl with a bottomless affinity for the study of death and a little known gag reflex when approaching a corpse.  Nonetheless, it’s all Flavia’s business.  And she peddles her bicycle across her village uncovering stones, roots, and community secrets to fulfill her curiosity.  Oh, and solving murder.
As the third book to Alan Bradley’s Flavia de Luce mystery series, I have to express how I believe I’m finally settled into dedicating myself to this series.  Well, it was no question how I planned to read the books.  The question was the pace I would take in doing so.  Stuff them down in one go?  Or spread them out months at a time underneath the phrase "a little bit at a time goes a long way."  Fortunately, the "spreading" idea wasn't the case.  Immediately after I read A Red Herring Without Mustard, I went in search of the following book (with no luck thus far).  
See, there was no wishy-washy feelings after I read Mustard.  No “eh, eh.”  None of that.  Only the burning need to hit up my local bookstore with a debit card anxious to acquire the following four or five books in this currently-running series.  You see, the previous two books more or less won Bradley’s style of mystery plotting into my groove.  Book one [The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie] read like a test run.  But of course an engrossing run.  And book two [The Weed that Strings the Hangman’s Bag] seemed off balanced from a murder generated 100 pages in, and a file of branching story threads that eventually wove together.  Unbelievable woven, I should say.  So despite finding myself in like with Bradley’s youthful and precocious protagonist, Flavia; I had until now to find myself hungry for more of her in whatever circumstances Bradley features.  
As I said before, Flavia reminds me a lot of myself at her age; filled with questions and willing to find answers when not given.  Particularly by adults.  A Red Herring Without Mustard had that better balance of Flavia, overlaying mystery, suspense, and charm that locked and keyed me to this series.  Sadly, my local bookstore didn’t have the fourth book.  So I’m still waiting to collect her next adventure.

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