The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie (Fiction : Alan Bradley) c. 2009

Summary: In rural 1950’s England, 11-year-old Flavia de Luce, a precocious girl with a talent for chemistry and poisons, lives in her family’s dilapidated manor house. When a man from her father’s past appears at the door, leaving vague threats that rattle her father, Flavia is curious. When the man turns up dead the next morning, with her father’s arrest for murder following swiftly thereafter, Flavia knows it’s up to her to prove him innocent.

Review: This debut mystery by Bradley netted the Agatha Award for Best First Novel. That it won an award aimed at honoring crime writers following in Agatha Christie’s footsteps (closed setting, no sex or violence and an amateur sleuth) should tell you a lot about what you’re going to find here. The mystery is only solid, nothing that’s going to floor you, but then it doesn’t need to. That’s Flavia’s job, backed by a nicely drawn rural English landscape. I would highly recommend this to anyone looking for a light but still very engaging mystery.

Read-a-likes: This is the first in a projected six book series. The second title, The Weed That Strings the Hangman’s Bag, is already out, with the next to follow early in 2011. Agatha Christie makes, unsurprisingly, a good read-a-like here. Mary Daheim and M.C. Beaton are two other, more contemporary, authors that are worth a look.

Availability: This item is available from the Lake Bluff Public Library as a book, eBook and eAudiobook. Click here to check on the availability!

Review by Eric


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