The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie

The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie
by Alan Bradley, (Delacorte Press, paperback, January 2010)

It is summer 1950, and Eleven year old Flavia de Luce spends her days rattling around Buckshaw, the ancestral country house in rural England, tormenting her two older sisters, and conducting chemistry experiments in the laboratory equipped by some chemistry-mad forbear, all under the rather neglectful eye of her beloved father.

But their slightly off-tune peace is shattered when Flavia finds a dying man in the cucumber patch, and although she herself is both elated and fascinated, the event spells disaster for her family.  So what’s a smart girl to do but set out to solve the mystery of who killed the stranger?  And set out she does, in classic Agatha Christie style, by visiting the denizens of nearby Bishop’s Lacey and questioning them in distinctly un-childlike fashion; and by performing chemistry trials on the clues she finds.  But Flavia de Luce is no Miss Marple, she has an exceedingly sharp wit and a well-developed affinity for the macabre and the result is one of the very best heroines to come along in years.  And when the bad guys inevitably make their appearance, she manages to face them with a courage well beyond her years.

All in all, this well written mystery is great fun, and I very much look forward to the next installment of Ms. de Luce’s adventures — The Weed That Strings the Hangman’s Bag!

Reviewed by Annie Leonard
The Next Chapter, Knoxville, Iowa
March 2010


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