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The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie

by Alan Bradley

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4,5404551,055 (3.86)740
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English (445)  Spanish (3)  German (3)  Dutch (2)  Portuguese (Portugal) (1)  Catalan (1)  Finnish (1)  All languages (456)
Showing 1-25 of 445 (next | show all)
Unexpected. Excellent. Delightful. ( )
  atuson | Sep 7, 2014 |
King George is not a frivolous man

Yes, this is a book written for grown ups and yes, the main character is 11 years old. Flavia de Luce has a passion for poison, the vocabulary of an adult, and a bicycle named Gladys. Her mother died climbing mountains in the Himalayas and her father, Colonel de Luce, is just about as distant, showing more interest in his stamp collection than his daughters. It's part of the whole English reluctance to show affection and keeping a stiff upper lip, or something like that...

But things get shaken up a bit when a dead blackbird shows up on the porch at Buckshaw (the old mansion where the de Luces live) with a penny stamp stuck to it's beak. The next morning Flavia finds a dead man in the cucumber patch - well, he's not dead yet, but expires with a final word: "Vale." But who was he, and more important, who killed him? Was it the Colonel who had secretly argued with the stranger the night before, or Dogger, the dependable but unstable gardener (who still suffers from his experiences in Japanese POW camps)? Maybe he died from eating a slice of Mrs. Mullet's horrible cream pie? Whoever it was, Flavia is determined to find out with the help of her chemistry knowledge and Gladys.

In spite of a slow start, this was really an enjoyable read. It has a style that reminded me of Alan Bennett's "The Uncommon Reader." It's what the English like to call "wickedly funny," which apparently means that it's funny in a clever and witty way with a good helping of subtle sarcasm. And it's certainly all of those. My 15 year old son quickly read it (he has this habit of snagging any book I order and reading it first, which I wouldn't mind except he doesn't feel the need to treat them as gently as I would prefer!) and loved it, so even though it's written more for grown-ups (don't worry, there's nothing inappropriate here!) older kids will probably enjoy it just as well (most of it would just go over the heads of younger kids). My son and I are looking forward to another slice! ( )
  J.Green | Aug 26, 2014 |
Fun to read. I could not believe Flavia was 11—I tend to find prodigies more annoying than endearing—but fortunately, I was willing to suspend reality and enjoy the story unfolding, particularly the chemistry references. ( )
  spellfone | Aug 13, 2014 |
Flavia is a young chemist who is brilliant at solving mysteries. Follow her through this well written mystery of a murder, right in her own garden! Intricate and fun!
  mcorbink | Jul 4, 2014 |
This review may contain spoilers.

I like mysteries but have never really loved them (except for Nancy Drew, but that may have been a right-time, right-circumstances thing). But with Flavia de Luce, I really got sucked into this book. It was well done. I really like the chemistry talk (kinda goes with my interest in forensic crime/police procedural TV shows). At the same time, Flavia just has a lot of gumption. She's smart, and she's almost fearless-- both because she's an invincible youngster but also because of an innate morbid fascination. Any comparison with Wednesday Addams would be apt.

Ah, but what's the story?, you may ask. It starts out... well, let's skip the first little bit so you can enjoy that for yourself. Soon enough, the cook--yes, this is 1950s Britain and classism is an underscored reality-- finds a dead snipe on the doorstep, with a Penny Black stamp impaled on its beak. Her father is clearly unnerved by this when he sees it. Upon recovering himself, he snatches the offending object from the creature.

The dead jack snape will not be the only death on the property. Later that night, after Flavia overhears a heated argument between her father and a red-haired stranger, the same red-haired stranger is found lying in their cucumber patch. Flavia stumbles upon him as he takes his dying whispeedr, "Vale!"

And so starts the mystery that occupies the rest of the book. It is engrossing. And you should read it, to find out, like the best, "who dun it?"
  pegasus.rose.99 | Jun 25, 2014 |
Lovely mystery replete with young sassy smart girl of 11 going on 40 who helps to solve quite a mystery. Exciting! ( )
  hklibrarian | Jun 2, 2014 |
Not my favorite. Too slow moving and lacked a certain amount of believability in the characters. In fact, I don't think I liked any of them at all. ( )
  klarsenmd | May 29, 2014 |
Flavia De Luce is my new favorite "detective" even if she is only 11 years old! ( )
  Chatty_Cathie | May 18, 2014 |
Book 1, in the Flavia de Luce series

This is a delightful old fashioned mystery set in the English countryside in 1950. It features Flavia de Luce, an 11-year-old amateur sleuth who pulls herself away from her beloved chemistry lab in order to clear her father in a murder investigation. This debut novel was written in 2009 and was well received by critics, 5 more books were written for adults and have since been published.

Flavia de Luce is a brilliant, bold, adorable and a gem of a character. She comes alive on the page and her voice is so distinctive, a precocious young heroine with extraordinary vocabulary (she certainly has a doozy one) it is hard not to be engaged by this compelling lead detective. Although I was totally absorbed by this tale I do question to whom this book was meant to appeal? When an 11 year old girl is the protagonist you would think a younger audience is the target but when a language has such a deep level and details paint realistic experiences it makes for a tedious read and may be a bit much for the younger minds. Oh! Yes I remember this series is for adults…. Hum…ok.

Flavia is far too mature for her age, putting this aside was my best bet to enjoy this mystery at its fullest. In fact I now say this story is rather captivating, one that moves quickly giving us bits and pieces until we have the final picture. There are a lots of clues covertly hidden waiting for us to discover and this is a fun pleasure. Added to all this mix is a touch of humour. This is an uplifting adventure that was slow to grab me but it finally did as I further read along.

Next “The Weed That Strings the Hangman’s Bag” is on my TBR list….I give Mr. Bradley thumbs up for picked such original titles. ( )
  Tigerpaw70 | May 9, 2014 |
Flavia is truly one of a kind. ( )
  zguba | Apr 25, 2014 |
Flavia helps her father who is accused of murdering an old schoolmate. Fun read. ( )
  SparklePonies | Apr 19, 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 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 |
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