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The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie

by Alan Bradley

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Showing 1-25 of 437 (next | show all)
"I wish I could say I was afraid, but I wasn't. Quite the contrary. This was by far the most interesting thing that had ever happened to me in my entire life." This according to the narrator, eleven year old Flavia de Luce regarding finding a dead body in the cucumber patch.

Delightful. The style is quirky and fun, with a real relish for language and the period. I'm going to say this is a three and a half star read. Agh, this rating system is difficult! :) I may change my mind. (this is this month's group read and discussion.) ( )
  FAR2MANYBOOKS | Apr 5, 2014 |
"I wish I could say I was afraid, but I wasn't. Quite the contrary. This was by far the most interesting thing that had ever happened to me in my entire life." This according to the narrator, eleven year old Flavia de Luce regarding finding a dead body in the cucumber patch.

Delightful. The style is quirky and fun, with a real relish for language and the period. I'm going to say this is a three and a half star read. Agh, this rating system is difficult! :) I may change my mind. (this is this month's group read and discussion.) ( )
  FAR2MANYBOOKS | Apr 5, 2014 |
I was fortunate enough to win this book from one of this sites drawings. I have now managed to find time to read it. The story is told from the perspective of an 11 year old girl set in the 50's. Whilst I'm no expert on the period, it is obvious that the author has done his research and he quickly draws you into her world.

The writing is fast paced and the story is one you don't want to put down. The heroine is like-able even if she is awfully bright for someone so young. I look forward to his other books and thoroughly enjoyed this one. It is the perfect beach book, my only complaint was that it was over too quickly. ( )
  ExpatTX | Mar 31, 2014 |
Fun! ( )
  ewillse | Mar 23, 2014 |
OMG!!! It have taken about 6 months to read this book. A little bit difficult but very interested. I have the other three books of this series. May be some day I can read complieted. ( )
  wankorobo2 | Mar 7, 2014 |
Fun! ( )
  PatienceFortitude | Mar 6, 2014 |
Fun! ( )
  PatienceFortitude | Mar 6, 2014 |
Fun! ( )
  PatienceFortitude | Mar 6, 2014 |
What a great book. A solid mystery, wonderfully quaint setting, and completely brilliant little heroine. I adored Flavia. She's so clever and endearing. Definitely will be reading more Flavia de Luce books. ( )
  virginiahomeschooler | Mar 4, 2014 |
amazing beginning to an enchanting Series of murderer mysteries. Flavia as precocious eleven year old detective and self taught chemist and student of poisons kept me laughing. well done! Alan Bradley, I'm. so glad you decided to put your ingenious young heroine onto the page! ( )
  LilyMarlene | Feb 26, 2014 |
I enjoyed this very much. Flavia was a bit like Tiffany Aching of Terry Pratchett's [b:Wee Free Men|34494|The Wee Free Men (Discworld, #30) (Tiffany Aching, #1)|Terry Pratchett|http://d.gr-assets.com/books/1284280817s/34494.jpg|62580] and its sequels: prickly, competent, and desirous of knowledge for its own sake. She reminded me a bit, too, of the young Mary Russell in King's [b:The Beekeeper's Apprentice|91661|The Beekeeper's Apprentice (Mary Russell, #1)|Laurie R. King|http://d.gr-assets.com/books/1298438298s/91661.jpg|891863], already a match for Sherlock Holmes even at a young age.

Flavia, extraordinarily clever, is the youngest of three daughters of a withdrawn, reclusive father in 1950's Britain. The effect of World War II is everywhere; one of the characters still suffers from PTSD, and others casually refer to air raid sirens, soldiers, and the aftermath of war. Flavia comes across a dying man in the garden one morning, and finds herself caught up in a mystery that stretches back her father's school days. She must rescue herself and her family from a clever criminal, while solving a decades-old murder. ( )
  Turrean | Feb 15, 2014 |
great 11 year old detective, very fun, bright & sparkly ( )
  njcur | Feb 13, 2014 |
The characters, setting, and premise made this book seem promising. Ultimately, though, I didn’t find it as rich an experience as I’d hoped--Flavia’s passion for chemistry seemed somewhat tacked-on, and I found her voice pretty irritating, even though I generally have a pretty high tolerance for precocious youths. (Maybe I should clarify here that this tolerance only extends to fiction.) ( )
  thatotter | Feb 6, 2014 |
A really good mystery that rings all the major themes of a novel. Enjoyable for everyone of all ages. A good to introduce youngsters into the world of reading and books. ( )
  charlie68 | Jan 26, 2014 |
Synopsis: Flavia de Luce is a preciouses child with a love of chemistry and a passion for poisons. Hearing an argument between her father and a red-headed man then finding the stranger dead in the garden, she concludes that her father has committed murder. Using her wits and with support of her friend and father's former army subordinate, Flavia sets out to discover the truth behind this murder and one occurring during her father's years in school.
Review: Although it is difficult to believe that an 11 year old could have as much poise and logic a Flavia displays, the mystery is compelling and most of the characters are if not likable at least interesting. This book is a nice lead-in to the rest of the series. ( )
  DrLed | Jan 16, 2014 |
Loved it. Loved. It. LOVED IT. ( )
  capriciousreader | Dec 20, 2013 |
This was fun, I did enjoy it--but I expected to love it, and in the end I rather doubt I'll be seeking out more books in this series--thus only three stars. I'm rather shocked I didn't love it--I'd expect this book to be exactly my cup of tea. A cozy mystery, set in 1950s England, with an old ancestral pile and a nearby village populated with quirky characters that you could just imagine Miss Marple doing her sleuthing in.

The narrator and amateur sleuth here though is no elderly spinster. Flavia de Luce is eleven years old--going on thirty? Not that she doesn't have her moments of being a child. Indeed, much of the time she struck me as a brat and I felt sorry for her sisters or anyone who'd have to deal with her. She's exasperating--and sometimes endearing--and how much you love (or don't love) the book will depend on how much you buy into and love her character and voice. This certainly isn't the kind of mystery that hangs on a clever twist. The villain is really quite predictable--Bradley is no Christie or Tey. And despite the praise this book has received, I wouldn't quite rank this with literature in the way of mysteries by Dorothy Sayers or Umberto Eco. It's well-written, yes--I was never jarred out of the narrative, there's humor here too. But whatever it is that hooks me on an author or series at first outing, this didn't quite have it.

Mind you, Flavia did grow on me through the book. At first I saw only the brat--over the course of the book I saw more of the vulnerable child. Even if in the end she's more worthy of being called "brilliant but scary" than Hermione Granger. Maybe a bit too much of both. She might grow on me in future books--if anyone has read further into the series, I'd love to know if you think the books got better, more compelling or moving. Certainly for a debut book, this is a strong outing. Worth a try--I certainly can understand why others loved it. ( )
  LisaMaria_C | Dec 9, 2013 |
This book languished on my shelf forever, always pushed aside for something else. Finally I picked it up for a challenge and now I wish I read it when I first got it. It's a fun but not silly mystery with an interesting cast of characters. Flavia is one of those precocious kids who would probably be annoying in real life but is so much fun on the page. A budding chemist (or poisoner) she knows she should feel bad about the dead body in the garden but is quite excited by the intrigue instead. Her sleuthing doesn't seem outside the scope of what a bright kid without supervision could do. An overall enjoyable read and I want to check out the other Flavia de Luce books. ( )
  CCleveland | Nov 27, 2013 |
Brillant! Flavia is Awesome! ( )
  joycrazy | Nov 25, 2013 |
My goal for November is to read a few mystery novels either from popular authors that I have not read yet (Janet Evanovich, Michael Connelly, etc.) or from a subgenre that is outside my typical reading preferences (anything cozy). The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie was my first foray into gentler, cozy mysteries and I enjoyed this a lot more than I thought I would.

If you want a book where the plot is secondary to the characters, this would be a fantastic example. Flavia de Luce, the book's ten-year-old narrator and amateur sleuth, has more spunk and personality than all of the other characters combined. And with her keen mind and penchant for chemistry and poisons, she is the perfect person to investigate the murder of a mysterious man in her family's cucumber patch. (But since this is a cozy, set in rural 1950's England no less, there's no gore and very little imminent danger.)

And since the story takes place in a sheltered, rural English town, Flavia has the freedom to travel all over the county with her trusted bike, Gladys, in order to solve the mystery. Her travels take her to the town library, an all-boys academy where her father and the murdered man were classmates, and to the jailhouse, where she visits her father who is being held under suspicion of murder. In any other book, I'd find it hard to believe that a ten year old could get away with so much unsupervised traveling, but here it works.

Flavia's voice really makes this story what it is, with her vivid imagination and her dry and surprising humor. The mystery itself was interesting enough (well plotted, but no big twists or surprises), but Flavia made me keep coming back for more. If the world had more ten-year-old girls like her, it would be a much more interesting place.

Older kids with advanced reading levels might find this a good choice - a well plotted mystery to challenge their minds, but with a fun and precocious protagonist closer to their age.

Readalikes (from Novelist):

The Beekeeper's Apprentice - Laurie R. King: Historical mystery set in England with a young female protagonist, although Beekeeper's features the most legendary of detectives: Sherlock Holmes.

The Uninvited Guests - Sadie Jones. Both novels introduce young girls central to the book's mystery, which takes place in a historic, atmospheric English mansion.

Where'd You Go, Bernadette - Maria Semple. Very contemporary, more satirical, and less focus on the mystery at hand, but Bee's tenacity, precociousness, and unique voice make her an interesting counterpart to Flavia. ( )
  coloradogirl14 | Nov 21, 2013 |
A quick and very enjoyable read with an addictively delightful heroine. Flavia is a precocious and witty kid with a penchant for chemistry and antagonizing her older sisters. This is a mystery story that doesn't get too overwrought or drawn out, but will still give you enough to keep you interested! ( )
  meganelizabeth | Nov 19, 2013 |
Flavia de Luce is a wonderfully clever 11 year old girl obsessed with chemistry and specializing in poisons. After finding a dying man in the cucumber patch, Flavia must use all her wit, courage, and reason to exonerate her father as the prime murder suspect. Written from Flavia's perspective, this novel unfolds at a pace appropriate for an 11 year old though perhaps maddeningly slow for established fans of the mystery genre. The writing is brilliantly imaginative conjuring up scenes full or such detail the reader can almost smell the chemical fumes of Flavia's laboratory. All together a joyful and entertaining read. ( )
  JessicaReadsThings | Nov 12, 2013 |
That was decent. Very geeky (Flavia is obsessed with chemistry) which, depending on your personality, you might find either irritating or cute (I pick the latter though hers randomly reciting chemical formulas of everything around her felt a bit forced sometimes). Most of the book is an intellectual mystery but then it turns into a succession of action sequences towards the end which I didn't enjoy as much. Not sure I'll bother with the other books in the series. ( )
  RubyScarlett | Nov 11, 2013 |
This was a great mystery story for young adults, the kind that WON'T scare you shitless if you read it by yourself. There are murders, as there are in almost every mystery it seems, but they aren't gory, sensational, or disturbing. The protagonist is a little girl, which was a fun point of view for the reader, although she seemed way too smart and clever for her age. She could also identify the smells of various poisons within seconds, which seems difficult for your average human. Anyway, the way the mystery is unraveled as the protagonist collects information is very compelling, and I love the "secret society" feel of the back story. ( )
  Morgan_Mott | Oct 4, 2013 |
Snooze Fest ! ( )
  ginger72 | Sep 30, 2013 |
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