The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie

Meet Flavia de Luce. You are going to like her. It is 1950 and Flavia, a very precocious eleven year old, lives in a small village in England in a deteriorating grand mansion with her father and two older sisters. Her passion is chemistry, which she has learned on her own by reading a textbook owned by her deceased mother and practiced in a laboratory inherited from her uncle. This little girl is full of the kind of chemical knowledge that fascinated most of us when we were young. She knows all about poisons and describes how to steam-distill urushiol from poison ivy to prank her sister. Flavia puts her wits and her chemistry to work to solve a murder mystery that literally drops on her doorstep. A stranger (who turns out to have had deep connections to the family) is found dying in the cucumber patch by Flavia herself. When Flavia's father is arrested for the crime, the young CSI goes to work to clear him and also to discover who the stranger was and why he was killed. This is an entertaining, light and wholesome read. It has already won the Debut Dagger Award from the Crime Writer's Association. Flavia reminds me of Harry Potter, but her power comes from chemical knowledge rather than magic.

Publication information
Pick Attribution: 

Alan Bradley

Publication Date: 
Thursday, January 1, 2009