Flavia de Luce, the creation of Alan Bradley, is an impudent, precocious, slightly malicious eleven-year-old. Quirky, funny, bold, brilliant, and utterly captivating, she is the youngest daughter of an aristocratic family in decline. While her father, Colonel de Luce, locks himself in his study all day working on his stamp collection and mourning the death of Flavia’s mother who was killed in a climbing accident in the Himalayas, her middle sister, Daphne, reads her way through the family library, and her oldest sister, Ophelia, moons over a handsome village boy, Flavia pursues her penchant for poisons in a chemistry lab that once belonged to her mother.
Winner of the Crime Writers Association Debut Dagger Award, The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie is set in rural England in 1950 in the small, sleepy village of Bishop’s Lacey. The mystery begins when a dead snipe is found on the doorstep of Buckshaw, the family mansion, with a postage stamp impaled on its beak. The next morning, after overhearing her father arguing with an unknown man in his study the night before, Flavia stumbles across a nearly-dead man in the cucumber patch. With his last breath, he utters a Latin word, “Vale.” Fascinated, she waits for the police who kindly but firmly shunt her aside. But when they arrest her father, Flavia, determined to prove his innocence, sets out on her trusty bicycle, Gladys, to find the real killer.
An excellent mystery and laugh-out-loud funny, with well-developed, engaging characters, exotic poisons, rare stamps, and numerous red herrings, The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie is a delightful read. I’m definitely looking forward to the next book in the series.