The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie : A Flavia De Luce Mystery Paperback
by Alan Bradley
Part of the Flavia De Luce Mystery series
Take one precocious eleven-year-old girl called Flavia.
Add an ancient country house somewhere in England in 1950.
Then sprinkle with murder, mystery and dark family secrets...For very nearly eleven-year-old Flavia de Luce, the discovery of a dead snipe on the doorstep of Buckshaw, the crumbling de Luce country seat, was a marvellous mystery - especially since this particular snipe had a rather rare stamp neatly impaled on its beak.
Even more astonishing was the effect of the dead bird on her stamp-collector father, who appeared to be genuinely frightened. Soon Flavia discovers something even more shocking in the cucumber patch, and it's clear that the snipe was a bird of very ill omen indeed.
As the police descend on Buckshaw, Flavia decides it is up to her to piece together the clues and solve the puzzle.
Who was the man she heard her father arguing with? What was the snipe doing in England at all? Who or what is the Ulster Avenger? And, most peculiar of all, who took a slice of Mrs Mullet's unspeakable custard pie that had been cooling by the window...?
- Format: Paperback
- Pages: 384 pages
- Publisher: Orion Publishing Co
- Publication Date: 04/02/2010
- Category: Crime & mystery
- ISBN: 9780752883212
Showing 1 - 5 of 5 reviews.
Review by CatyM
When she finds a body in the garden, eleven year old Flavia de Luce puts her passion for chemistry and the tricks she's learned outwitting her sisters to good use in her attempt to untangle the mystery.I have slightly mixed feelings about this novel. I wasn't convinced by the character of Flavia across the whole book… but sometime she was completely believable as a bratty child playing tricks on her sisters and thinking she knew better than all the grown-ups. I didn't find the setting in 1950s England convincing… but the entertainment value of the story was pretty good, and the writing was engaging.I wasn't thrilled with the <i>deus ex machina</i> ending… but I think I'd have found any other ending even harder to swallow, and at least this did show that no matter how clever and resourceful Flavia was, she was also vulnerable. I'm struggling to decide whether to rate it at 3½ or at 4 - it scores high as an entertaining read, and as an intriguing puzzle of a mystery, but it never really pulled me all the way in, and for that I think I'm taking it down to a 3½.
Review by Alirob
A wonderful, funny, book. I forgave all the Americanisms which crept into the text; it is the best book I have read in a long while.
Review by whirligigwitch
Fresh, original, quirky and vastly enjoyable novel.
Review by readingwithtea
Summary: 11-year-old Flavia de Luce finds an expiring redhead in the cucumber patch. Her father is accused of the murder by the local constabulary, and it's up to Flavia to solve the problem, unaided by her terrible older sisters Ophelia and Daphne. Loyal man-about-the-house Dogger comes to her aid...This is the first Flavia de Luce mystery, the second being The Weed That Strings the Hangman's Bag, which I loved. Sweetness was excellent too - but I think that Bradley had really honed Flavia as a character a bit better when it came to the second book.All the characters are excellently set up - the three girls, their father, Mrs Mullet the cook, and Dogger, along with the various police personalities and of course the background of the dead man. Setting the mysteries in 1950s English countryside (Bradley is Canadian) provides a remote environment in which Flavia can operate much more independently and believably than she would be able to today. And the English countryside lends so much charm, with the family estate being in a general state of dilapidation (as always) and mysterious family money going back generations.As with Hangman's Bag, I would say that the book is a little simple, but it's very refreshing and Flavia is a delightful tour guide.
Review by AHS-Wolfy
This is not my usual fare from the mystery table as I usually pick at the darker, seedier end and I went into this English country house murder mystery with a little trepidation. The sleuth and narrator is an 11 year-old girl, youngest of three sisters who live with their father at the crumbling ancestral home of Buckshaw in 1950's rural England. Flavia, the precocious girl in question, likes nothing more than experimenting in her chemistry laboratory and uses her inquisitive mind to concoct suitable vengeance on her two older siblings who always seem to gang up on her. Early one morning she discovers a dying man in the cucumber patch and is a little disconcerted when it turns out to be the same man she stumbled upon having an argument with her father the night before. Surely daddy didn't do it? But the police seem to think so and even go so far as to arrest him. After getting the brush off from the local inspector, Flavia takes matters into her own hand and tries to find out what really happened.The characters were superbly brought to life in a setting which allowed them to and while the mystery wasn't overly engaging, Flavia's attempts to find the clues and make sense of them was more than enough to keep me reading until the end. The pacing is almost spot on with moments of humour and reminders of the time period slipped in with the investigations. A pretty good début offering from a 69 year-old Canadian who had never stepped on English soil until after he wrote it. I’ll definitely carry on with the series at some point.