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The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie
Synopses & Reviews
Winner of the 2007 Crime Writers Association Debut Dagger
A delightfully dark English mystery, featuring precocious young sleuth Flavia de Luce and her eccentric family.
The summer of 1950 hasnt offered up anything out of the ordinary for eleven-year-old Flavia de Luce: bicycle explorations around the village, keeping tabs on her neighbours, relentless battles with her older sisters, Ophelia and Daphne, and brewing up poisonous concoctions while plotting revenge in their homes abandoned Victorian chemistry lab, which Flavia has claimed for her own.
But then a series of mysterious events gets Flavias attention: A dead bird is found on the doormat, a postage stamp bizarrely pinned to its beak. A mysterious late-night visitor argues with her aloof father, Colonel de Luce, behind closed doors. And in the early morning Flavia finds a red-headed stranger lying in the cucumber patch and watches him take his dying breath. For Flavia, the summer 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.”
Did the stranger die of poisoning? There was a piece missing from Mrs. Mullets custard pie, and none of the de Luces would have dared to eat the awful thing. Or could he have been killed by the familys loyal handyman, Dogger… or by the Colonel himself! At that moment, Flavia commits herself to solving the crime — even if it means keeping information from the village police, in order to protect her family. But then her father confesses to the crime, for the same reason, and its up to Flavia to free him of suspicion. Only she has the ingenuity to follow the clues that reveal the victims identity, and a conspiracy that reaches back into the de Luces murky past.
A thoroughly entertaining romp of a novel, The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie is inventive and quick-witted, with tongue-in-cheek humour that transcends the macabre seriousness of its subject.
About the Author
Alan Bradley was born in Toronto and grew up in Cobourg, Ontario. After receiving an education in electronic engineering, Alan worked at numerous radio and television stations in Ontario, and at Ryerson Polytechnical Institute (now Ryerson University) in Toronto, before becoming Director of Television Engineering in the media centre at the University of Saskatchewan, where he remained for twenty-five years before taking early retirement to write in 1994.
Soon thereafter, Bradley became the first President of the Saskatoon Writers, and a founding member of the Saskatchewan Writers Guild. His childrens stories were published in The Canadian Childrens Annual and his short story “Meet Miss Mullen” was the first recipient of the Saskatchewan Writers Guild Award for Childrens Literature.
For a number of years, Bradley taught scriptwriting and television production courses at the University of Saskatchewan. His fiction has been published in literary journals and he has given many public readings in schools and galleries. His short stories have been broadcast by CBC Radio, and his lifestyle and humour pieces have appeared in The Globe and Mail and The National Post.
Alan Bradley was also a founding member of The Casebook of Saskatoon, a society devoted to the study of Sherlock Holmes and Sherlockian writings. There, he met the late Dr. William A.S. Sarjeant, with whom he collaborated on the classic book Ms. Holmes of Baker Street (1989). This work put forth the startling theory that the Great Detective was a woman, and was greeted upon publication with what has been described as “a firestorm of controversy.”
Bradleys next book, The Shoebox Bible (2006), has been compared with Tuesdays With Morrie and Mr. God, This is Anna. In this beautiful memoir, Bradley tells the story of his early life in southern Ontario, and paints a vivid portrait of his mother, a strong and inspirational woman who struggled to raise three children on her own during tough times.
In July of 2007, Bradley won the Debut Dagger Award from the British Crime Writers Association for The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie (2009), the first novel in the series featuring eleven-year-old Flavia de Luce. The award brought international attention to Bradleys fiction, and Sweetness and the two additional novels currently planned for the Buckshaw Chronicles will be published in more than ten countries.
Alan Bradley lives in Kelowna, B.C., with his wife Shirley and two calculating cats.
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