The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie by Alan Bradley
|The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie by Alan Bradley|
|Reviewer: Sue Magee|
|Summary: The first book in the Flavia de Luce mysteries is a good, entertaining read and an indication of a worthwhile series to follow.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 400||Date: February 2010|
|External links: Author's website|
In 1950 at Buckshaw, the crumbling stately home of the de Luce family, Flavia de Luce is very nearly eleven years old and she's planning revenge on her sisters Ophelia – known as Feely – and Daphne who's generally called Daffy. The cause of the planned revenge was an attack which left her bound, gagged and locked in the attics. The de Luce family are not what you might call close. Harriet, the mother of the three girls died a decade ago in a mountaineering accident and their father is something of a recluse, preferring to spend time with his stamp collection than to waste it on his daughters.
He's stunned though when a dead bird is left on the doorstep at Buckshaw – but there's worse to come. It's Flavia who discovers a man breathing his last in the cucumber patch at four in the morning. When the police arrive they don't exactly seem to grasp the extent of Flavia's abilities so she decides to investigate the murder for herself.
OK – you're going to have to suspend disbelief about whether or not a nearly-eleven-year-old could have the breadth of knowledge which Flavia possesses. She's good on just about everything but chemistry is her passion and her powers of deduction are equal to those of the police and it turns out that they're not quite the numb-skulls we took them for in the first place. It's a story and it's a good one: make allowances.
It's a brilliant evocation of England in the post-war period. I know – I was there. But it's all the more remarkable for the fact that the author is Canadian and had never set foot in the country until he came to collect an award for the book. It's based on tales told by his parents and his grandparents and they did a good job. You'll love Flavia too. She's not exactly an unreliable narrator, but neither is she that reliable or honest either – particularly in her dealings with the police. There are plenty of red herrings and whilst the denouement isn't that hard to guess it's a good and entertaining read.
Thankfully it's part of a series. This is the first but there doesn't seem to be a lot of need to read them in chronological order. We can also recommend A Red Herring Without Mustard.
You can read more book reviews or buy The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie by Alan Bradley at Amazon.co.uk
You can read more book reviews or buy The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie by Alan Bradley at Amazon.com.
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