When I read the first book in the series, The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie, I was charmed by the story and the humor, but I have to admit that thinking of the eleven-year-old main character sneaking around trying to poison her sisters presented me with a misgiving or two. Now that I've read this second book, those misgivings have disappeared, and it's all due to author Alan Bradley's characterization. The entire de Luce family has grown and developed in this second book, and Flavia's behavior is much better understood. In fact-- since her two sisters remind me a great deal of Cinderella's stepsisters-- I rather hope Flavia is successful with her potions. (And I'll have the pleasure of finding out by reading the other books in this series.)
It is pure pleasure to watch this little girl uncover evidence... clues... secrets... and then try to get the police to act upon her discoveries. She sometimes appears to be by far the most adult person in Bishop's Lacey and the surrounding area. I also love how she applies her reading and her scientific experiments to her investigation.
The wit, the humor, the twists and turns of the plot, and an incredibly bright little girl make these books a joy to read.
I loved the first book and I love the second; in fact, I think the second was slightly better because the character development continued for the main characters.
In this mystery, the body doesnt turn up until nearly half way through the novel. So the reader has the scrumptious chore of trying to figure out who is going to be the murder victim as well as who is going to be the murderer. The author also throws in some information about how German prisoners-of-war in England were treated; a little tidbit of history that I knew nothing about. There is also a little additional information about Flavias missing mother, presumed dead. And of course there would be a traveling puppet show.