Review: A Red Herring Without Mustard

A Red Herring Without Mustard by Alan…Alan Bradley, A Red Herring Without Mustard

At the church fête in Bishop’s Lacey, Flavia de Luce is drawn to the fortune-teller’s tent, where a local Gypsy gazes into a crystal ball to see the past or the future — for a price. Flavia impulsively invites the Gypsy woman to camp on the grounds of Buckshaw but is shocked when she finds the woman badly beaten the next morning. Who would want to harm the Gypsy, and could the incident possibly be related to an alleged kidnapping that took place several years ago? As usual, Flavia is excited to be in the thick of a mystery, especially when the body of a poacher is soon afterwards found at Buckshaw. Once again, Flavia is on the case, accompanied by her trusty bicycle Gladys. But will she be able to beat local policeman Inspector Hewitt to the solution?

I don’t have too much to say about this book other than what I already said about The Weed That Strings the Hangman’s Bag. I enjoyed this installment of the series a bit more because the pacing is better. The Gypsy woman is attacked very early in the book, so the mystery kicks off right away. As always, it’s fun to follow Flavia along in her investigations; I especially like when she pretends to be a sweet, innocent little girl. I’m also continuing to enjoy the fraught familial relationships of the de Luce family. Honestly, I get a bit angry with the father sometimes. Why isn’t he paying more attention to his girls? And Ophelia and Daphne are so consistently mean to Flavia that it’s almost unbelievable. There are a few flickers of kindness from them, but mostly they terrorize her — which is fun to read but also a bit one-note. Still, I enjoyed this book a lot and look forward to I Am Half-Sick of Shadows.

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