Friday, April 16, 2010

Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie

The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie (Flavia de Luce, #1) The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie by Alan Bradley

My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I read this book on the recommendation of Laurie King (the author of The Beekeepers' Apprentice and others in the Mary Russell series – which I highly recommend) who recommended it on her page on I'm very glad I did! I've now been introduced to one Flavia de Delacy, an 11-year-old with an obsession with chemistry and poisons, living in a small village in England in 1950, But, despite the young age of our narrator, this is not a children's book (not that it contains 'adult' material – just that most kids would not enjoy it), It's a classical mystery story, along the lines of Agatha Christie's Miss Marple, if Miss Marple were an 11-year-old eccentric.

Flavia's observations, her thought processes, her analyses of the situation are all beyond her year's, yet there is still an 11-year-old's lack of refinement and relationships. She is charming, and a bit scary – as most child prodigies can be. But she is also endearing and quite funny. Her feuding relationship with her older sisters is quite realistic, and her attempts at revenge (and her plotting thereof) are quite amusing. Just what any 11-year-old genius in chemistry would do!

(For those of you familiar with Elizabeth Peters' Amelia Peabody series, Flavia reminds me of a young Amelia crossed with a young Ramses.)

The mystery is a classic “who done it”, and while the local constable is attempting to unravel it, Flavia is one step ahead of him at almost every turn (partially because she is withholding evidence from him).

The setting of the small English village plays a role in the story, as everyone knows everyone else, and there are every village's share of eccentrics. This all adds to the charm of the novel.

The 2nd book in the series has now been published (The Weed that strings the Hangman's Bag) and I'm very much looking forward to reading it, as well!

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