The Weed That Strings the Hangman's Bag is Alan Bradley's second Flavia deLuce mystery. The precocious eleven-year-old practicing chemistry out of sight of her father and horrid sisters in 1950s rural England was introduced in The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie, one of my favorite reads from 2009. The second book does not disappoint. A traveling puppet show is the definition of excitement in Bishops Lacey, but when he dies during the show, that's the definition of excitement for Flavia deLuce. She digs into the mystery, using her knowledge of the village and chemistry knowledge to eliminate suspects and determine how the puppeteer's death could be connected to the hanging of a young boy five years before. Meanwhile, she cleverly concocts poisons to gain revenge on her older sisters, diagnoses pregnancy with a handkerchief, and stumbles upon a hemp field. We see more of the Bishops Lacey residents in this installment, and the rural village setting continues to delight. Flavia's odd Aunt Felicity is in for a visit, which adds an interesting dimension. Flavia is simply fun to read. My husband heard me cracking up while I was reading this book and asked what was so funny. "Flavia's trying to poison her sisters again!" I told him. I think he's reevaluating my sense of humor. Flavia is smart, witty, and resourceful, and her investigation is brilliant.
This is a fantastic entry in one of my absolute favorite mystery series. Fans of cozies or historical mysteries will love Flavia.
Source disclosure: I received this book from the publisher through LibraryThing's Early Reviewer program.