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Sunday, February 13, 2011

Book Review: Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie

Pie. It's always about the pie. Have I mentioned that I have a sweet tooth? Which is probably why I was drawn to this book in the first place. "Unless some sweetness at the bottom lie, who cares for all the crinkling of the pie?" I find it refreshing that with the publication of Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie: A Flavia de Luce Mystery, Alan Bradley is a 70-year-old first time novelist. Perhaps this means I still have time to figure out what I want to be when I grow up.

The story is set at a mansion in 1950's rural England. Flavia, our narrator, is our saucy 11-year-old sleuth and resident chemist. Ostracized by her two sisters and neglected by her mourning father over her mother's death over a decade ago, Flavia has used her seclusion to study chemistry and is extremely intelligent for her age. Upon the arrival of a dead bird on their doorstep, its beak piercing a rare stamp, followed by a dead stranger in their garden, Flavia stays one step ahead of the police in unraveling the mystery of her father's connection to it all.

If there is a thing I truly despise, it is being addressed as "dearie." When I write my magnum opus, A Treatise Upon All Poison, and come to "Cyanide," I am going to put under "Uses" the phrase "Particularly efficacious in the cure of those who call one 'Dearie.'"
I remembered a piece of sisterly advice, which Feely once gave Daffy and me: 
"If ever you're accosted by a man," she'd said, "kick him in the Casanovas and run like blue blazes!"

Although it had sounded at the time like a useful bit of intelligence, the only problem was that I didn't know where the Casanovas were located.

have to think of something else. 
I'm not generally a mystery reader, as I often find them to be lacking in thoroughness and rationale. This is an entertaining well-written mystery, leaving no loose ends or questions unanswered and the plot is quite original, revolving around magicians, philatelists (stamp collectors), chemistry and blackmail. Our intelligent and sassy narrator makes the tale all the more entertaining and it is set up for more mysteries to follow: The Weed that Strings the Hangman's Bag is the next in the series. 

The novel is the winner of the Crime Writers' Association Debut Dagger Award, and an Agatha Award, just to name a few. I give it two thumbs up.Have you read it? What did you think? Who are your favorite mystery writers? 

-Bye Bye Moon Pie


Flavia de Luce
Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie
Alan Bradley
Crime Writers Association

Other book reviews by me:
Cold Sassy Tree by Olive Ann Burns
The Sugar Queen by Sarah Addison Allen
John, Paul, George & Ben by Lane Smith
Thanatos Syndrome by Walker Percy
Fifth Born by Zelda Lockhart
The Mitford Years by Jan Karon


  1. Its funny how all of our lives we think we know what we want but then one day it dawns on us... We have only been living to fulfill what was destined and the pieces are only going to fit together when we get close to the end. Writing a book at age 70 for the first time makes me think that we are only scratching the surface of what we are intended to do on this great planet. nice post.

  2. This book sounds delightful. I'm always looking for good books for my girls and me. Have you thought of signing up for booksneeze or another of the book review sites? You get free copies of books and blog about them. I think another site is - not sure though.

    Anyway, this is a fabulous find for me. Thank you for sharing!

  3. I agree, Joe! Since I posted this, another book I'm reading mentioned some famous folks who made great achievements at a more golden age. I think I'll add it to the post!

    D- I did not know about these sites! I'll check them out! Thanks!