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A Red Herring Without Mustard [Hardcover]

Alan Bradley
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
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Book Description

Feb. 8 2011

In the third installment of this bestselling, award-winning, sister-poisoning, bicycle-riding, murder-investigating, and utterly captivating series, Flavia de Luce must draw upon Gypsy lore and her encyclopaedic knowledge of poisons to prevent a grave miscarriage of justice.
 
“You frighten me,” the old Gypsy woman says. “Never have I seen my crystal ball so filled with darkness.” So begins eleven-year-old Flavia de Luce’s third adventure through the charming but deceptively dark byways of the village of Bishop’s Lacey. The fortune teller also claims to see a woman who is lost and needs help to get home—and Flavia knows it must be her mother Harriet, who died when Flavia was less than a year old. The Gypsy’s vision opens up old wounds for our precocious yet haunted heroine, and sets her mind racing in search of what it could mean.
 
When Flavia later goes to visit the Gypsy at her encampment, she certainly doesn’t expect to find the poor old woman lying near death in her caravan, bludgeoned in the wee hours. Was it an act of retribution by those who thought that the woman had abducted a local child years before? Certainly Flavia understands the bliss of settling scores; revenge is a delightful pastime when one has two odious older sisters. But how can she prove this crime is connected to the missing baby? Did it have something to do with the weird sect who met at the river to practice their secret rites?
 
While still pondering the possibilities, Flavia stumbles upon a corpse—that of a notorious layabout and bully she had only recently caught prowling about Buckshaw. The body hangs from a statue of Poseidon in Flavia’s very own backyard, and our unflappable sleuth knows it’s up to her to figure out the significance. Pedalling her faithful bicycle, Gladys, across the countryside in search of clues to both crimes, Flavia uncovers secrets both long-buried and freshly stowed—the dodgy dealings of a local ironworks, the truth behind the Hobblers’ secret meetings, her own ancestor’s ambitious plans—all the while exhausting the patience of Inspector Hewitt. But it’s not long before the evidence starts falling into place, and Flavia must take drastic action to prevent another violent attack.


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Review

“Flavia de Luce rides out of the pages of Alan Bradley’s new mystery and straight into our hearts. . . . [Bradley] has created one of the most endearing protagonists the traditional mystery genre, typified by the works of Agatha Christie, has seen in a very long time. . . . With this, his third novel in the Flavia de Luce series, Bradley . . . secures his position as a confident, talented writer and storyteller.”
— Elizabeth J. Duncan, The Globe and Mail

“[Flavia de Luce] remains irresistibly appealing as a little girl lost.”
The New York Times

“A splendid romp through 1950s England led by the world’s smartest and most incorrigible preteen.”
Kirkus, starred review

“Bradley’s outstanding third Flavia de Luce mystery set in post-WWII rural England . . . In this marvelous blend of whimsy and mystery, Flavia manages to operate successfully in the adult world of crimes and passions while dodging the childhood pitfalls set by her sisters.”
Publishers Weekly, starred review

“The 11-year-old sleuth with a penchant for chemistry and a knack for discovering corpses triumphantly returns in this third installment of Bradley’s award-winning mystery series . . . Whether battling with her odious sisters or verbally sparring with the long-suffering Inspector Hewitt, our cheeky heroine is a delight.” 
Library Journal
 
“. . . A spirited, surprisingly innocent tale, despite murky goings on at its center. Think of Flavia as a new Sherlock in the making.” —Booklist
 
“[The] idiosyncratic young heroine [Flavia] continues to charm.”
The Wall Street Journal
 

About the Author

Alan Bradley was born in Toronto and grew up in Cobourg, Ontario. With an education in electronic engineering, Alan worked at numerous radio and television stations in Ontario, and at Ryerson Polytechnical Institute (now Ryerson University) in Toronto, before becoming Director of Television Engineering in the media centre at the University of Saskatchewan, where he worked for twenty-five years before taking early retirement in 1994.
 
Bradley was the first President of the Saskatoon Writers, and a founding member of the Saskatchewan Writers Guild. His children’s stories were published in The Canadian Children’s Annual and his short story “Meet Miss Mullen” was the first recipient of the Saskatchewan Writers Guild Award for Children’s Literature.
 
For a number of years, he regularly taught scriptwriting and television production courses at the University of Saskatchewan. His fiction has been published in literary journals and he has given many public readings in schools and galleries. His short stories have been broadcast by CBC Radio, and his lifestyle and humour pieces have appeared in The Globe and Mail and the National Post.
 
Alan Bradley was also a founding member of The Casebook of Saskatoon, a society devoted to the study of Sherlock Holmes and Sherlockian writings. There, he met the late Dr. William A.S. Sarjeant, with whom he collaborated on the classic book Ms. Holmes of Baker Street (1989). This work put forth the startling theory that the Great Detective was a woman, and was greeted upon publication with what has been described as “a firestorm of controversy.” As he’s explained in interviews, Bradley was always an avid reader of mysteries, even as a child: “My grandmother used to press them upon us when we were very young. One of the first books she gave me was Dorothy L. Sayers’ Busman’s Holiday. I was profoundly influenced by it.”
 
Upon retirement, Bradley began writing full time. His next book, The Shoebox Bible (2006), has been compared with Tuesdays with Morrie and Mister God, This is Anna. In this beautiful memoir, Bradley tells the story of his early life in southern Ontario, and paints a vivid portrait of his mother, a strong and inspirational woman who struggled to raise three children on her own during tough times.
 
In July of 2007, Bradley won the Debut Dagger Award from the British Crime Writers’ Association for The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie (2009), based on a sample that would become the first novel in a series featuring eleven-year-old Flavia de Luce. As Bradley has explained, it was the character of Flavia that inspired him to embark upon the project: “I started to write The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie in the spring of 2006. Flavia had walked into another novel I was writing as an incidental character, and she hijacked the book. Although I didn’t finish that book, Flavia stuck with me.” The Dagger award brought international attention to Bradley’s fiction debut, and since then the novel has won numerous awards, including the Agatha, the Macavity, the Dilys, and the Arthur Ellis awards for best first novel. The second book in the Flavia de Luce series, The Weed That Strings the Hangman’s Bag (2010), has also been met with great success. The novels in the series will be published more than thirty countries.
 
Alan Bradley lives in Malta with his wife Shirley and two calculating cats. He is currently working on the fourth novel starring Flavia de Luce, I Am Half-Sick of Shadows.


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Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars
4.2 out of 5 stars
Most helpful customer reviews
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars FLAVIA WILL CAPTURE YOUR HEART! July 16 2012
By Janet B TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
The main character in this book is Flavia de Luce, an eleven year old budding chemist and amateur detective.

The story takes place in the 1950s near the Hamlet of Bishop's Lacey in England. Flavia lives in a decaying English mansion called Buckshaw with her father, Colonel de Luce, hardened by the war and saddened by his wife Harriet's tragic accident while mountain climbing. He is an avid stamp collector. Flavia has two older sisters, Feely (Ophelia) and Daffy (Daphne) who constantly tease their younger sister. There are also Mrs. Mullet, who prepares the family meals and Dogger, a former soldier and POW. He was initially hired as the Colonel's valet, but because of his nervousness and flashbacks, he is now the gardener. Dogger is very loyal to the Colonel and the only person whom Flavia trusts with all her secrets. Dogger likes Flavia and protects her from any harm that may come her way.

Flavia keeps herself busy in the laboratory of the mansion which was once used by her Uncle Tar. She loves chemistry and has a passion for poison. She loves mixing potions and she reads all about the discoveries of the great chemists.

The story begins when Flavia decides to have her fortune told by the gypsy fortune teller at the village fete. After the gypsy tells her something that shocks her, she knocks down a candle and the tent burns down. It was an accident and Flavia feels so sorry that she makes sure the gypsy, Fanella Faa has a safe place to park her caravan, while she recovers from the smoke she inhaled. Flavia drives the caravan and parks it on the grounds of her family's estate.

In the middle of the night, Flavia goes to check on the gypsy. She finds the woman brutally beaten and near death.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars what an engaging character! Feb. 22 2011
By Luanne Ollivier #1 HALL OF FAME TOP 10 REVIEWER
Format:Hardcover
A Red Herring Without Mustard is the third book of Alan Bradley's Buckshaw Chronicles.

I fell in love with Flavia De Luce - the 11 yr old protagonist in Bradley's award winning first book - The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie. (my review)

Flavia, her two older and (according to Flavia) odious sisters live with their preoccupied father in a crumbling mansion in 1950's England. Flavia has ensconced herself in the east wing, home to an ancestor's formidable chemistry lab. Flavia is enthralled by all things scientific, but especially poisons.

A Red Herring Without Mustard opens with Flavia stopping in at the fortune telling booth at the local church fete. Startled by the Gypsy's pronouncement, Flavia inadvertently sets fire to the woman's tent. In an effort to make amends she drives the elderly woman and her caravan to camp on her family's estate. However, when she goes back to check on her (being Flavia) in the middle of the night, she finds the woman near death from a beating. Having saved her life, Flavia sets out to discover who the dastardly perpetrator of such a nasty deed could be. The plot thickens as seemingly unrelated events muddy the waters. Plenty of red herrings abound.

I've said it in past reviews of Bradley's books and I'll say it again. The mystery is always fun, but it is the character of Flavia that enthralls me. She is old beyond her years, with an indomitable spirit and her inquisitive mind is always entertaining!

"Still, because the old boy deserved it, I gave Uncle Tar's portrait a brisk Girl Guide salute, even though I'd been drummed out of that organization, quite unfairly I thought, by a woman with no sense of humor whatsoever.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Flavia Meets Some Gypsies Feb. 15 2011
By Alison S. Coad TOP 50 REVIEWER
Format:Hardcover
"A Red Herring Without Mustard" is Alan Bradley's third Flavia de Luce mystery, following "The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie" and "The Weed that Strings the Hangman's Bag." In her latest outing, young Flavia meets a Gypsy at her village's fete, a meeting that leads to attempted murder, murder and the revealing of a past crime. Flavia is in the thick of it, of course, and as a budding-genius chemist, she uses her scientific knowledge and understanding of the scientific method to develop and test her hypotheses concerning the culprits involved in these mysteries. She does that even while fending off the depradations of older sisters Feely and Daffy, and while making the acquaintance of another young lady, Porcelain, who is related to the Gypsy woman and who appears and disappears mysteriously, at will. Can Flavia discover the truth before Inspector Hewitt does? Or will she find her unknown foes more than she can handle? Once again, it is a delight to read 11-year-old Flavia's story - she is an utterly charming narrator, without being in the least bit sentimental or cloying. The depiction of small town England in the early 1950s is well done, as are the class distinctions so prevalent in that time and place. An absolute joy to read - and you don't have to have read the earlier books to get into this one (though of course it's always helpful to have more information!). I can't wait for Flavia to come my way again. Highly recommended!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars More Flavia, please! April 1 2011
Format:Hardcover
I'm always excited to read the latest adventures of my favourite tween scientific detective and Mr. Bradley does not disappoint in this 3rd book. He has found the secret to making the reader feel a part of the story and really care about these characters, lovable or not. How a 'gentleman of a certain age' captures the essence of his young heroine is a delightful mystery!
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Flavia Entices
Flavia de Luce is a new must have for the mystery set. Treat yourself and introduce Flavia to you!
Published 10 months ago by Gary D. Sloan
3.0 out of 5 stars Delightful
Flavia DeLuce is solving crimes yet again. Assaults and murders occur on her family's estate that has been int the family for centuries. Read more
Published 15 months ago by CJ
4.0 out of 5 stars An outstanding read.
Interesting historical detail, great characters, intricate plot. And, most important of all, an eccentric and endearing character with an uncanny knack for getting into dangerous... Read more
Published 19 months ago by Patrick Glashan
3.0 out of 5 stars Three stars and a half
11 year old Flavia de Luce the sleuth successfully solves several mysteries including a murder in postwar Bishop's Lacey, England.
Published 22 months ago by G. M. Barz
3.0 out of 5 stars A Cold and Disturbing "Cozy"
I enjoy mystery novels that fit in the "cozy" category -- that is, mystery, detection, character development without serial killers, forensic gore, or the supernatural. Read more
Published on June 20 2013 by Amazon Customer
4.0 out of 5 stars A great new voice in mystery lit
In this third instalment of the Flavia De Luce series of novels, a gypsy is beaten nearly to death, having been accused of stealing a local woman's baby, and a murdered man is... Read more
Published on Dec 8 2011 by Andre Farant
5.0 out of 5 stars Each book is better than the last
A story like they used to write them. Although after reading the first book in the series, I wasn't sure if I would read more, I'm so glad that I did! Read more
Published on Sept. 5 2011 by C.M.
5.0 out of 5 stars This series is getting better and better
While there were chapters in the previous two books that I questioned the necessity of, in his third instalment of Flavia de Luce's adventures as a chemist and amateur detective,... Read more
Published on May 26 2011 by Lady Sam
4.0 out of 5 stars Gypsies. Tramps & Thieves
Reason for Reading: next in the series

Oh what a welcome it is indeed to be back amongst Flavia's world, at Buckshaw, her ancestral home in the hamlet of Bishop's Lacey! Read more
Published on March 22 2011 by Nicola Mansfield
5.0 out of 5 stars More about Flavia - the best eleven year old detective
Flaviea deLuce is back at what she does best - finding out who is the villain. Its the familair setting, Her sisters are still teasing her though there seems to be a slight touch... Read more
Published on March 6 2011 by William Fox
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