The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie

The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie: A Flavia de Luce Mystery by Alan Bradley (published by Random House) is a multiple award winner (4 awards including the Debut Dagger Award for first time writers). It’s a “cute” story about Flavia de Luce, an 11 year old who has a penchant for chemistry, is constantly at battle with her 2 sisters (Daphne and Ophelia aka Feely) who don’t understand her constant need to “experiment”,  and how she discovers a man lying in the garden of her home and hears him utter his last word… “Vale”… before he dies. There’s also the incident of the dead bird on the doorstep with a stamp pinned to it’s body that needs to be explained. And the heated conversation that Flavia overheard between her father and some man she couldn’t identify late the night before she comes upon this dying man. All clues or connections? Of course what else could a budding chemist do but try to solve his murder. Bradley has set his book in 1950’s Britain, it’s quaint, bang-on as far as setting and characters go (the cook is called Mrs. Mullet – how funny is that) and it’s a “jolly good read”. Flavia seems constantly to be on her trusty bike, Gladys, heading hither, thither and yon (just thought I’d continue the British feel here) to search out clues as to why this man, who no one recognizes, took his last breath in their cucumber patch at the back of their decaying English mansion called Buckshaw. Bradley has included just enough chemistry bits to make the book interesting, and Flavia is back in book 2, The Weed that Strings the Hangman’s Bag, which we’re tempted by an excerpt from at the end of this book. I’m sure you’ll want to read it just as soon as you’ve finished book 1. It’s a great read for summer, either on holiday or lying on the sofa with the air conditioning on to escape the heat.

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