A Red Herring Without Mustard by Alan Bradley: Review

I've become quite attached to Flavia de Luce throughout the series by Alan Bradley. In 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.


  1. I think Jayne Entwistle was TOO good at the eleven year old, complete with whining, for me. She drove me INSANE, to the point where I had to DNF the first book. I'm waiting until she gets out of my head to try it again in print.

  2. Jen- LOL! Yeah, she was pretty whiny. I read the first 2 so it wasn't what I had in my head but it didn't put me off.

  3. STILL haven't started this series, but I'm gonna. They just look so good. Love the covers, love the blurbs, love it!

  4. I read the first book in this series and enjoyed it but haven't felt compelled to pick up the next one. I'm not sure why.

  5. heard a bunch about 'pie' around the blogs but never put it at the top of my list. it's so funny to see how some listeners love certain narrators while others can't tolerate them at all! sometimes, if i listen longer than i want to, i actually end up falling for the narrator. i had an IMPOSSIBLE time with the first two discs of 'the life of pi' but by the end i was in love with the narrator and his accent.

  6. I havent tried these books but the audio sounds good!


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