Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Review: The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie by Alan Bradley

I’ve never been a huge fan of mystery novels.  As a kid, I never read the Hardy Boys or Nancy Drew series because by the time I was at the “right age” for the books, they were below my reading level.  Over the years, I have read the occasional Agatha Christie, Anne Perry, or Colin Dexter mystery, but I have never felt particularly engaged by or committed to a mystery series.  Until now. 

Alan Bradley’s The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie is the first novel in the Canadian author’s Flavia de Luce series.  It is 1950 and Flavia de Luce is an eleven year old girl who lives in a centuries old mansion in the English countryside with her widower father and two older sisters.  Precocious Flavia has a passion for poisons and dreams of a career in chemistry. 

One afternoon, a dead bird with a stamp on its beak is found on her family’s doorstep.  This eerie find becomes all the more sinister when, the next morning, Flavia finds a dying man in the cucumber patch.  The man enigmatically utters his last words in Flavia’s face.  Soon, her father is accused of the man’s murder and it is up to plucky Flavia to exonerate her father and find the real killer. 

The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie has a similar cadence to Agatha Christie’s Miss Marple mysteries but with added humor, scientific know-how, and sass.  Flavia de Luce is the little girl we all wish we could have been and she is all the more readable for this quality.

As yet, there are six books in the Flavia de Luce series and I am anxious to work my way through them all.  I may have checked the entire series out of the library.  No regrets!

Have you read the Falvia de Luce series?  What are your thoughts?

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