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The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pieby Alan Bradley
This beguiling debut from 70-year-old Alan Bradley has been worth the wait, an enchanting and masterfully told mystery that reveals itself at a perfect pace. Clever and delightfully devilish, Flavia de Luce is an intriguing young heroine that you'll be sad to part with.
If Nancy Mitford wrote I Capture the Castle or Cold Comfort Farm and starred in them Harriet the Spy you'd have something close to the quirky charm of Bradley's Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie. Even if you figure out the probable culprit before it's unveiled in the book, the joy is in following the sleuthing of the intrepid Flavia. Reading this book is especially delightful when paired with a cup of tea and a slice of sweet, sweet pie.
"Bradley won a Dagger award and multi-book deal when one of the judges was captivated by Flavia's character. Her charm continues to mesmerize, the book is now sold in 19 countries and, since its release in the U.S. this spring, has launched onto indie best-seller lists. Locally, it's a staff favorite at Broadway Books and Powell's, and has close to 200 folks signed up waiting for a copy from the Multnomah County Library." Peggy McMullen, The Oregonian (read the entire Oregonian review
Synopses & Reviews
In his wickedly brilliant first novel, Debut Dagger Award winner Alan Bradley introduces one of the most singular and engaging heroines in recent fiction: eleven-year-old Flavia de Luce, an aspiring chemist with a passion for poison. It is the summer of 1950and a series of inexplicable events has struck Buckshaw, the decaying English mansion that Flavias family calls home. A dead bird is found on the doorstep, a postage stamp bizarrely pinned to its beak. Hours later, Flavia finds a man lying in the cucumber patch and watches him as he takes his dying breath. For Flavia, who is both appalled and delighted, life begins in earnest when murder comes to Buckshaw. “I wish I could say I was afraid, but I wasnt. Quite the contrary. This was by far the most interesting thing that had ever happened to me in my entire life.”
To Flavia the investigation is the stuff of science: full of possibilities, contradictions, and connections. Soon her father, a man raising his three daughters alone, is seized, accused of murder. And in a police cell, during a violent thunderstorm, Colonel de Luce tells his daughter an astounding storyof a schoolboy friendship turned ugly, of a priceless object that vanished in a bizarre and brazen act of thievery, of a Latin teacher who flung himself to his death from the schools tower thirty years before. Now Flavia is armed with more than enough knowledge to tie two distant deaths together, to examine new suspects, and begin a search that will lead her all the way to the King of England himself. Of this much the girl is sure: her father is innocent of murderbut protecting her and her sisters from something even worse….
An enthralling mystery, a piercing depiction of class and society, The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie is a masterfully told tale of deceptionsand a rich literary delight.
"Fans of Louise Fitzhugh's iconic Harriet the Spy will welcome 11-year-old sleuth Flavia de Luce, the heroine of Canadian journalist Bradley's rollicking debut. In an early 1950s English village, Flavia is preoccupied with retaliating against her lofty older sisters when a rude, redheaded stranger arrives to confront her eccentric father, a philatelic devotee. Equally adept at quoting 18th-century works, listening at keyholes and picking locks, Flavia learns that her father, Colonel de Luce, may be involved in the suicide of his long-ago schoolmaster and the theft of a priceless stamp. The sudden expiration of the stranger in a cucumber bed, wacky village characters with ties to the schoolmaster, and a sharp inspector with doubts about the colonel and his enterprising young detective daughter mean complications for Flavia and enormous fun for the reader. Tantalizing hints about a gardener with a shady past and the mysterious death of Flavia's adventurous mother promise further intrigues ahead." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"While Flavia De Luce is winning your heart, she may also be poisoning your tea. She's the most wickedly funny sleuth in years, brilliant, unpredictable, unflappable — and only eleven. The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie offers the freshest new voice in mystery yet." Charles Todd, author of The Ian Rutledge series
"A wickedly clever story, a dead true and original voice, and an English country house in the summer: Alexander McCall Smith meets Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Please, please, Mr. Bradley, tell me we'll be seeing Flavia again soon?" Laurie R. King, author of the Mary Russell
"Alan Bradley's marvelous book, The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie, is a fantastic read, a winner. Flavia walks right off the page and follows me through my day. I can hardly wait for the next book. Bravo!" Louise Penny, author of Still Life
"The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie offers the reader the precious gift of a richly imagined and luscious new world — but uniquely so, for this is the world of Flavia Sabina de Luce: an eleven-year-old, utterly winning, and altogether delightfully nasty piece of work. An outright pleasure from beginning to end." Gordon Dahlquist, author of The Glass Books of the Dream Eaters
"Alan Bradley brews a bubbly beaker of fun in his devilishly clever, wickedly amusing debut mystery, launching an eleven-year-old heroine with a passion for chemistry — and revenge! What a delightful, original book!" Carolyn Hart, author of the Death on Demand series
About the Author
Alan Bradley has published many childrens stories as well as lifestyle and arts columns in Canadian newspapers. His adult stories have been broadcast on CBC Radio and published in various literary journals. He won the first Saskatchewan Writers Guild Award for Childrens Literature. He lives in British Columbia. Delacorte Press will publish the next in Bradleys delirious new series, The Weed That Strings the Hangmans Bag, in 2010.
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