A Red Herring Without Mustard, Flavia continues to run rampant in Bishop's Lacey, this time she's determined to find out who's tried to kill an old gypsy woman.
After inadvertently burning down the woman's fortune telling tent at the town's fete, Flavia invites her to stay in at the Palings behind Buckshaw, a place not unknown to the woman. She's stayed there before, until being driven off by Flavia's father. Flavia's invitation is one part charity, one part defiance. But the gypsy woman's presence is known by at least one other person: the one who's attacked her in the middle of the night. When the woman is tucked away recovering in hospital, Flavia makes it her mission to solve the case before the police.
Who would try to kill a harmless old woman in a caravan? Was it her last customer at the fete, a person with a secret? Mrs Bull, who accused the woman of stealing her baby? Brookie Harewood, last seen sneaking around Buckshaw in the middle of the night? Hilda Muir, the words spoken so ominously by the gypsy? Flavia will follow a few red herrings and uncover old secrets before finding the answer.
Flavia is still a mix of childlike innocence and wise beyond her years. Dead bodies? No problem. Skin on milk? No way! I love how she talks to Gladys like the bike is a real person. I also love her fearlessness. Sometimes I worry that she is much too neglected by her father but in this book when he does get involved I wanted him to leave the poor girl alone to do her sleuthing. I can't be pleased.
Although Flavia often gives the impression that she is impenetrable, in A Red Herring Without Mustard she expresses some dismay at her sisters' treatment of her. Not just the pranks and teasing but the belief that they hate her. She indicates that things weren't always this way. What happened to change their opinion of her? She also reveals more distress over her mother and the idea of losing Buckshaw to creditors. Maybe Flavia is maturing by showing more sensitivity.
A Red Herring Without Mustard wasn't quite as good as Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie but it's still entertaining. I'm looking forward to the next in the series.
About the Audio: The book was narrated by Jayne Entwistle who had me convinced she was an eleven year old girl, complete with whining.