Tuesday, December 29, 2009

The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie (2009)

11-year old Flavia de Luce is bright, clever, brave, and is like no other 11-year-old I have ever met. Alan Bradley's book had me smiling the whole time I was reading it and I even laughed out loud a few times by Falvia's antics. She lives with her father and two older (and not nearly so clever) sisters in England in 1950. A man shows up at her house one day, argues with her father and then dies in their garden, apparently of poison. By an odd coincidence, Flavia has a fascination with poisons since teaching herself organic chemistry and goes on to investigate this murder.

Having pointed out the body, I watched in fascination as Sergeant Woolmer unpacked and mounted his camera on a wooden tripod, his fingers, fat as sausages, making surprisingly gentle microscopic adjustments to the little silver controls. As he took several covering exposures of the garden, lavishing particular attention on the cucumber patch, Sergeant Graves was opening a worn leather case in which were bottles ranged neatly row on row, and in which I glimpsed a packet of glassine envelopes.
I stepped forward eagerly, almost salivating, for a closer look.
"I wonder, Flavia," Inspector Hewitt said, stepping gingerly into the cucumbers, "if you might ask someone to organize some tea?"
He must have seen the look on my face.
"We've had rather an early start this morning. Do you think you could manage to rustle something up?"
So that was it. As at a birth, so at a death. Without so much as a kiss-me-quick-and-mind-the-marmalade, the only female in sight is enlisted to trot off and see that the water is boiled. Rustle something up, indeed! What did he take me for, some kind of cowboy?

Her investigation leads her to information about the first U.K. stamp known as the Black Penny. Being a stamp collector I found this aspect of the book interesting. Flavia reminds me of Eloise from the series of books by Kay Thompson. She had no fear of grownups and no compunction of sticking her nose in grownup business.

I highly recommend this book to mystery lovers.

My rating for this book: ++++

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