SWEETNESS AT THE BOTTOM OF THE PIE

Written by Alan Bradley

Review written by Mike Stotter


SWEETNESS AT THE BOTTOM OF THE PIE
Orion Books
RRP: £12.99
Released: 22nd January 2009
Hbk

Dysfunctional families are always more interesting than the happy ones – and this certainly holds true for the ancient lineage of the De Luces. Flavia De Luce is an eleven year old with a penchant for poisons – and she is by far the most balanced and normal member of the household. She is also precocious, endearing, as fiercely intelligent as she is independent, with a Holmesian fascination with science – particularly the chemistry of poisons.

This sparkling debut came out of the Crime Writers’ Association Debut Dagger competition. The judges recognised a rare wit in the 3000 word submission and Alan Bradley has exceeded even their expectations, producing an entertaining, funny, exciting and engrossing novel, as accomplished as many more experienced writers in the genre.

Rare stamps, a rarefied English country house setting and an ingenious murder weapon will keep the reader absorbed from start to finish. The 1950s milieu provides sufficient latitude for Flavia, the heroine, to spend long hours unsupervised without provoking the officious interest of social services, and Bradley makes excellent use of the inequality of girls and women at that time without ever labouring the point. This is a murder mystery in the traditional setting of an old country house, but The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie takes a distinctly untraditional slant which results in a richly rewarding reading experience.

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