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A Red Herring Without Mustard: 03/27/12

cover art

A Red Herring Without Mustard by Alan Bradley is the third Flavia de Luce mystery. It opens with young Flavia having her fortune told by a Gypsy. Although Flavia fashions herself as a skeptic, the Gypsy's tale of her late mother, Harriet, hits too close to home. She freaks and accidentally burns down the Gypsy's tent.

Guilt and a sense of obligation, therefore unite Flavia and the Gypsy. She helps find a safe place for her to park her caravan, saves her life and takes in her granddaughter, who has Flavia's gumption.

It seems with every subsequent Flavia de Luce mystery, the introductory chapters take more and more of book. It's not that the books are getting longer, just that Flavia, her family and her life are taking up a greater proportion of the pages.

The mystery itself felt a bit like a rehash of The Weed That Strings the Hangman's Bag in that the modern day attack is related to the long buried death of a child. How many children, I wonder, have met unfortunate ends in Bishop's Lacey?

Despite the recurring motif, I enjoyed tagging along with Flavia. She seems to be taking more risks. I keep expecting her plans to come crashing down about her ears.

Five stars

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