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

Title: The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie
Author: Alan Bradley
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Released: April 2009
Source: my personal library

Synopsis (from Goodreads):

Flavia de Luce, 11, is an aspiring chemist with a passion for poison. In the summer of 1950, a series of inexplicable events strikes her home, Buckshaw, a decaying English mansion. 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, both appalled and delighted, life begins in earnest when murder comes to Buckshaw.

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 jailed for murder. He tells Flavia an astounding story of a schoolboy friendship turned ugly, a stolen priceless object, and a Latin teacher who flung himself to his death from the school tower thirty years before. Flavia ties tie two distant deaths together, examines new suspects, and follows the search to the King of England himself.

The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie is the first book in the Flavia de Luce Mystery series. A good friend of mine, whose taste in books I share, has been recommending the Flavia books to me for a while. I finally purchased a copy and gave it a try.

Oh, Flavia. What a character! I love her wit, her intelligence, her slightly misanthropic ways, and how she’s just a bit of a holy terror. I was completely absorbed in this mystery, just like when I was a kid devouring every Nancy Drew, Bobbsey Twins, or Trixie Belden story I could find. I turned page after page not only to find out what happened next, but to see what Flavia would say next. She kept me laughing with statements such as: “If poisons were ponies, I’d put my money on cyanide,” and “There were far too many books to search, so I tried to think of which of them would be least likely to be looked into. Of course! The Bible!”

I enjoy fiction that inspires me to search the web to learn more, and this book didn’t disappoint. There is a healthy dose of history in The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie, and that combined with the humor and the plot made for a very entertaining read. I wish I hadn’t waited so long to give this a try, and I’m looking forward to reading the other books in the series.