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Literary Friday: A Red Herring Without Mustard

Friday, February 18, 2011


This week I read A Red Herring Without Mustard by Alan Bradley, the third in a series of Flavia de Luce murder mysteries.

I absolutely adore Flavia de Luce.  The year is 1950, and the setting is Buckshaw, a sprawling English estate near the small village of Bishop's Lacey.  Flavia is the eleven year old and youngest daughter of a widower. The two older daughters, Ophelia, 17, (Feely for short) and Daphne, 14, (Daffy), torment Flavia, as sisters sometimes are wont to do.  Each sister has her own passion: Feely is an accomplished pianist.  Daffy is a bookworm and loves Victorian fiction.  Flavia has taken a liking to her great uncle Tar's chemistry lab in the east wing; Flavia has a passion for poisons!  I love nothing better than an eccentric English upper-class family as characters in literature.

"You frighten me," the gypsy said.  "Never have I seen my crystal ball so filled with darkness."

This is how the third installment begins. Flavia accidentally catches a gypsy's tent on fire at a fair at Bishop Lacey's Anglican Church, St. Tancred's, after the gypsy references Flavia's mother's tragic death on a mountain in Tibet ten years earlier.  Feeling guilty for having destroyed the tent and an afternoon's wages for the gypsy, Flavia feels obligated to help her. She takes the gypsy and her caravan to The Palings, a pretty meadow in the bend of the River Efon on her family's estate.  Later, Flavia finds the gypsy bludgeoned almost to death in the caravan, and, within the same day, finds a local n'er do well hanging from Neptune's Triton atop a long-decommissioned fountain at Buckshaw.

Years earlier, the gypsy had been accused of abducting a local infant.  Could her bludgeoning be related to this case?  Is the murder at Buckshaw also related to the attack on the gypsy?  Flavia, with her usual brilliance, sets off on Gladys (her bike) and gathers clues to solve the case. Unfortunately, her tampering with and withholding of evidence aggravates Inspector Hewitt to his wit's end.  He requests that the Colonel keep Flavia at home.  Will Flavia solve the crimes before someone else is victimized?  How can she solve them if she is grounded at Buckshaw?

You can read my post about The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie here. The Dixie Diva Book Club read it last October.  I have read all three of the Flavia de Luce novels, and I highly recommend all three.  These books are great for readers of all ages.


You can visit Flavia's website here, and  Flavia's fan club website is here.

I review books I have read every Friday on my Literary Friday posts.  I read at least one book per week, and I only blog about the books I like. Please refer to the archives at the bottom of the sidebar for other Literary Friday posts.

I also want to remind you about the What We're Reading Linky Party Bonnie and I are co-hosting the twentieth of every month.  The fun will begin this Sunday, so please join us!

What We're Reading

Until next time...

Happy reading!
Ricki Jill


  1. Picking this up from the library tomorrow and looking forward to starting it sometime next week.
    Carole (Stapes)

  2. Okay you've hooked me, I am going to have start this series, it sounds like a great one. I do my reading in the car to and from work, nice and quiet and I can read for an hour, sometimes an hour and a half coming and going. ;)

  3. I never read mystery novels when I was younger but have grown to truly enjoy them. thanks for sharing your latest find!

  4. I love reading books and collecting them. Thanks for the comments on my blog. I will be showing before and after photos when the job is done.

  5. I had heard of this one that you just read but had not yet heard of the other two. Thank you for a new series! I've added it to my GoodReads.


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I'm Ricki Jill. Welcome! I'm honored that you're reading my blog. I enjoy sharing my creative lifestyle @ The Bookish Dilettante. For more information about my blog, please read the Start Here page. Thank-you for stopping by, and I hope you'll consider following me via email.

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