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The Weed That Strings the Hangman's Bag

A Flavia de Luce Mystery
Written by: Alan Bradley
Narrated by: Jayne Entwistle
Length: 9 hrs and 50 mins
5 out of 5 stars (20 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

From Dagger Award-winning and internationally best-selling author Alan Bradley comes this utterly beguiling mystery, starring one of fiction’s most remarkable sleuths: Flavia de Luce, a dangerously brilliant 11-year-old with a passion for chemistry and a genius for solving murders. This time, Flavia finds herself untangling two deaths—separated by time but linked by the unlikeliest of threads.

Flavia thinks that her days of crime-solving in the bucolic English hamlet of Bishop’s Lacy are over—and then Rupert Porson has an unfortunate rendezvous with electricity. The beloved puppeteer has had his own strings sizzled, but who’d do such a thing and why? For Flavia, the questions are intriguing enough to make her put aside her chemistry experiments and schemes of vengeance against her insufferable big sisters. Astride Gladys, her trusty bicycle, Flavia sets out from the de Luces’ crumbling family mansion in search of Bishop’s Lacey’s deadliest secrets.

Does the madwoman who lives in Gibbet Wood know more than she’s letting on? What of the vicar’s odd ministrations to the catatonic woman in the dovecote? Then there’s a German pilot obsessed with the Brontë sisters, a reproachful spinster aunt, and even a box of poisoned chocolates. Most troubling of all is Porson’s assistant, the charming but erratic Nialla. All clues point toward a suspicious death years earlier and a case the local constables can’t solve—without Flavia’s help. But in getting so close to who’s secretly pulling the strings of this dance of death, has our precocious heroine finally gotten in way over her head?

©2010 Alan Bradley (P)2010 Random House Audio

What the critics say

"Billiant, irresistible and incorrigible, Flavia has a long future ahead of her. Bradley's mystery debut is a standout." ( Kirkus Reviews)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

This is my favorite series of my entire life!

I'm getting everyone hooked on this series and the author! Every story is brilliantly executed.

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • L
  • New York NY, United States
  • 2010-04-18

delightful!

This is one of two (so far) Flavia de Luce books by Alan Bradley - both are delightful. I can't recommend them more highly. The main character is a smart, witty, observant, precocious (but in fun and amusing kind of way) Pippi Longstocking type character - full of mischief, independent spirit and bursting with the sheer joy of being alive. Flavia loves scientific experients and solving mysteries, and peppers her observations of science and life with historical facts that never get in the way of the flow of the story. The descriptions of English country life and of the landscape and village characters are also good and add to the experience of the story. Thank you Audible, for pairing this delightful heroine, the11 year old Flavia de Luce, with the pitch perfect narration of Jayne Entwhistle! It's a great combination. I have been a member of audible for years and cannot remember enjoying a character or a story more. The combination of character and narrator really add to what is already a fun and absorbing story! This was not written as a children's book, but it will appeal to the adventurous young girl within readers of all ages. This book (as well as The Sweetness at The Bottom of the Pie) have made me laugh and smile with the wit, spunkiness and sheer joy in life that Entwhistle conveys through her narration of the character of Flavia. Please bring us more, Mr. Bradley, and please have Entwhistle narrate any forthcoming books in the series, Audible. Thank you for bringing this lovely character to life through these audio books. (Though written by a man, I think this series may appeal especially to females - or to persons of any age who are young and remember what it was like to be eleven years and old and full of enthusiasm and curiosity).

30 of 31 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Amazon Customer
  • MA, USA
  • 2011-01-05

A delightful, fresh character

Flavia de Luce is one of the most entertaining and fresh characters to come along in years. I read Alan Bradley's "The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie" and thoroughly enjoyed it so decided to try "The Weed That Strings the Hangman's Bag" on Audible. I am glad I did. Jayne Entwistle did a superb job reading this book especially with bringing Flavia to life. I understand that Mr. Bradley began to write these books when he was 70 years old. I hope that he lives a very long time and is able to produce many more Flavia mysteries.

9 of 10 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Aaron P. Lazar
  • 2013-10-09

I'm Completely Hooked!

Would you listen to The Weed That Strings the Hangman's Bag again? Why?

Absolutely. I plan to re-listen to these books just like I listen over and over again to John D. MacDonald's Travis McGee series. Jayne Entwistle brings the series alive; I absolutely adore her voices and characterizations.

What did you like best about this story?

I loved the first book, but I think this one was even better, if that's possible. I loved the strange and brilliantly described characters, such as Rupert, Mad Meg, the grieving mother, and the bizarre scenes in the dovecote (which I'd never heard of before!), the amazing details of the village, villagers, and times in history. The whole thing is just pure delight.

Which character – as performed by Jayne Entwistle – was your favorite?

Mad Meg's voice was wonderful. Of course Flavia's got to be everyone's favorite, but these featured characters are tops. I love the accent she uses for both Meg and the cook!

Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

Yes - when Flavia found the mother in the dovecote holding a vigil for her poor son... great scene.

Any additional comments?

I hope Mr. Bradley is writing fast. ;o)

6 of 7 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Daron Dickens
  • Atlanta, GA
  • 2010-08-16

Keep them coming!

I thought this was just as enjoyable as the previous book. I probably would have given it a 4.5 if it had been possible for the same reason as I listed for "The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie". Mainly because the mystery does not have the tight reveal of some books, but is well done none the less, so I leaned to the 5.

For those who are new to the series they are done very much in the vein of Sherlock Holmes where details are everything and the pieces slowly start to fall into place by the end of the story.

It was well narrated. Many have complained about this, but I think each voice is perfectly done. The heroin is a 9 year old precocious aristocrat. It may be that those who found the voice annoying really would find the heroin annoying if they were to meet her in real life. If that is the case you probably shouldn't be listen to this series. On the contrary I found that they nature of the characters and their world was the most intriguing part of the story. Flavia behaves as a precocious 9 year old would. Her area of interest just happens to be chemistry. In the world of high mindedness and proper English living it would not be that unusual.


Over all I would highly recommend the book for the character development, its fun flair, the narration, and the way the story transports you to the period in which it is written. If you have not read "Sweetness..." it is a must read.

6 of 8 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Chris
  • 2017-01-30

Good but not as good as the 1st book in the series

Any additional comments?

Flavia de Luce, a dangerously brilliant 11-year-old with a passion for chemistry and a genius for solving murders. This time, Flavia finds herself untangling two deaths—separated by time but linked by the unlikeliest of threads. Flavia thinks that her days of crime-solving in the bucolic English hamlet of Bishop’s Lacy are over—and then Rupert Porson has an unfortunate rendezvous with electricity. The beloved puppeteer has had his own strings sizzled, but who’d do such a thing and why? For Flavia, the questions are intriguing enough to make her put aside her chemistry experiments and schemes of vengeance against her insufferable big sisters. Astride Gladys, her trusty bicycle, Flavia sets out from the de Luces’ crumbling family mansion in search of Bishop’s Lacey’s deadliest secrets. Does the madwoman who lives in Gibbet Wood know more than she’s letting on? What of the vicar’s odd ministrations to the catatonic woman in the dovecote? Then there’s a German pilot obsessed with the Brontë sisters, a reproachful spinster aunt, and even a box of poisoned chocolates. Most troubling of all is Porson’s assistant, the charming but erratic Nialla. All clues point toward a suspicious death years earlier and a case the local constables can’t solve—without Flavia’s help. But in getting so close to who’s secretly pulling the strings of this dance of death, has our precocious heroine finally gotten in way over her head?

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars
  • puttgirl
  • 2016-11-21

Enjoyable but not as good as first in series

If you’ve listened to books by Alan Bradley before, how does this one compare?

Not quite as good as first in series.

What does Jayne Entwistle bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

Jayne is an excellent actor and brought emotion and insights into the characters.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Amazon Customer
  • TALLAHASSEE, FL, United States
  • 2013-11-05

Lackluster story, great performace

After the first book, I had high expectations of this one. I was somewhat disappointed. The performance was just as magnificent as it was in the first book. Jayne Entwistle is a truly talented storyteller, but the plot was just not up to the standard of the first book. It moves very slowly because it lacks action and tension.

The mystery is somewhat interesting, but I would have liked it more if there had been more danger involved. Don't get me wrong - I don't like blood and guts - but I need more than descriptions to keep me motivated.

I wouldn't say this was a waste of my time or credit, but don't look to this as any sort of an action book. It was worth it for Jayne Entwistle's performance, and I will continue to read this series, but I hope the rest of the books are more like the debut and less like this one.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Donna
  • 2013-09-20

Loved the 1st book by Bradley but not this one...

What could have made this a 4 or 5-star listening experience for you?

I find the story itself just wasn't compelling. When I listened to the 1st book I remember really enjoying it, laughing out loud, interested in the story. I listened to the 1st book quite a while ago but remember saying I was going to listen to his next one. Well, what a disappointment....

What could Alan Bradley have done to make this a more enjoyable book for you?

The story just didn't grab me...

Did the narration match the pace of the story?

The narration was quite good...

You didn’t love this book... but did it have any redeeming qualities?

Uhm, I would have to say no...

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Karen
  • Soddy Daisy, United States Minor Outlying Islands
  • 2011-10-25

Love me some Flavia!

I was so glad to get my hands on another Flavia book! Even as a thirtysomething, I can so relate to this precocious girl. And Bradley has such a great feel to his writing.

3 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Kindle Customer
  • OAKLAND, CA, United States
  • 2011-04-01

Could have been great, or at least good

I give this three stars for the spunky and brilliant young female protagonist, and I liked the plot but I was really put off by the narrator. Unfortunately, with audio books the narrator really can make or break the experience for the listener, and I found this narrator arch, squeaky and out of touch with the nuance.

I might get the next book in paper form to give the series a fair shot.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful