Summary: 11-year-old Flavia de Luce finds an expiring redhead in the cucumber patch. Her father is accused of the murder by the local constabulary, and it’s up to Flavia to solve the problem, unaided by her terrible older sisters Ophelia and Daphne. Loyal man-about-the-house Dogger comes to her aid…
This is the first Flavia de Luce mystery, the second being The Weed That Strings the Hangman’s Bag, which I loved. Sweetness was excellent too – but I think that Bradley had really honed Flavia as a character a bit better when it came to the second book.
All the characters are excellently set up – the three girls, their father, Mrs Mullet the cook, and Dogger, along with the various police personalities and of course the background of the dead man. Setting the mysteries in 1950s English countryside (Bradley is Canadian) provides a remote environment in which Flavia can operate much more independently and believably than she would be able to today. And the English countryside lends so much charm, with the family estate being in a general state of dilapidation (as always) and mysterious family money going back generations.
As with Hangman’s Bag, I would say that the book is a little simple, but it’s very refreshing and Flavia is a delightful tour guide.