In his wickedly brilliant first novel, Debut Dagger Award winner Alan Bradley introduces one of the most singular and engaging heroines in recent fiction: eleven-year-old Flavia de Luce, an aspiring chemist with a passion for poison. It is the summer of 1950—and a series of inexplicable events has struck Buckshaw, the decaying English mansion that Flavia’s family calls home. A dead bird is found on the doorstep, a postage stamp bizarrely pinned to its beak. Hours later, Flavia finds a man lying in the cucumber patch and watches him as he takes his dying breath. For Flavia, who is both appalled and delighted, life begins in earnest when murder comes to Buckshaw. “I wish I could say I was afraid, but I wasn’t. Quite the contrary. This was by far the most interesting thing that had ever happened to me in my entire life.”
To Flavia the investigation is the stuff of science: full of possibilities, contradictions, and connections. Soon her father, a man raising his three daughters alone, is seized, accused of murder. And in a police cell, during a violent thunderstorm, Colonel de Luce tells his daughter an astounding story—of a schoolboy friendship turned ugly, of a priceless object that vanished in a bizarre and brazen act of thievery, of a Latin teacher who flung himself to his death from the school’s tower thirty years before. Now Flavia is armed with more than enough knowledge to tie two distant deaths together, to examine new suspects, and begin a search that will lead her all the way to the King of England himself. Of this much the girl is sure: her father is innocent of murder—but protecting her and her sisters from something even worse….
An enthralling mystery, a piercing depiction of class and society, The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie is a masterfully told tale of deceptions—and a rich literary delight.
Charming, VERY English. As an adult-read, this is not my usual cup of tea and I would rate this a 3 star only because the book is about an 11 year old, but it is very well written and held my attention--even made me chuckle. Younger readers especially will enjoy the pre-teen snarky sleuth, Flavia, and will laugh at her witty commentary about life at home with her sisters. But, they may want to consider the abridged edition; Flavia's ebullient and precocious chatter could make it difficult to stay focused on a plot that is secondary. Look for Flavia and her chemistry set to inspire future adventures.
Sweet and Savoury reading
The story, characters, and writing style are delightful. Much more fulfilling than a glass of lemonade. More like a chicken pot pie with a flaky crust. The plot has plenty of twists and turns, but the fun is in the writing style of the author. His descriptions are spot on and easy to relate to. You can't help but cheer for the heroine, Miss Flavia. Can't wait to read the next one in the series.
Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie
I am writing this for one reason: I'd like to save you $20. This book was dreadful. The plot was hard to find under thousands of superfluous words, obscure historical references, and a characters I didn't care about at all.