Sweetness of Pie

| 15 September , 2009 | Reply

Guest editor

Guest Editor, Jane de Graaff from I Ate It All

Premise: When almost-11-year-old Flavia de Luce finds a deceased stranger in the cucumber patch of her family\’s ancestral estate Buckshaw, and her father is arrested on suspicion of murder, it\’s up to her to prove his innocence.

Surrounded by memories of her adventurous mother Harriet, Flavia uses her keen sense of observation, a passion for chemistry (with a fully equipped antique chemical laboratory) along with Harriet\’s bike, to solve the mystery one tantalising secret at a time.

Who is the stranger in the cucumber patch? What is the significance of the dead jacksnipe on the doorstep? Will inspector Hewitt ever figure it all out? And who in their right mind managed to eat a slice of Mrs Mullet\’s terrible custard pie?


Review: Flavia De Luce has stolen my heart. She stole it the moment she made her daring escape from a locked cupboard in the attic, where her older sisters had imprisoned her before breakfast.

Then she took my heart with her as she methodically set about proving her fathers’ innocence. From sneaky forays into the local guesthouse, to flights through the English countryside on her trusty bike Gladys, into the inky depths of unraveling murder, with clues buried in ancient newspapers or hidden under loose roof slates.  Flavia is a daring and resourceful heroin with a keen wit and a sharp mind for deduction.

Her world is a well-stocked laboratory of potions, poisons and empirical evidence that baffles her aloof older sisters and frustrates the local chief of police.

Written with an eye for the delicate details and a good dash of history, you\’ll love every moment of this young detectives crusade, from Spode dinner settings to Shakespearean quotes and lessons in philately…

I fell into this novel quite by surprise, not expecting to be so enchanted by the young heroin. It\’s a rollicking murder mystery, full of detailed descriptions of chemical reactions, crumbling country estates and deviously hidden small village secrets.

Despite being a murder mystery, it\’s not terribly dark or frightening, more like a splendid puzzle that needs to be solved to rescue the charming Colonel de Luce. But having said this, I was quite thrilled with surprised by the more serious turns that set my heart racing. Our protagonist might be almost 11, but this is not a children\’s book.

If you like a jolly good story bursting with thatched cottages and distinctive characters named Mr. Twining or Miss Mountjoy, let tenacious little miss de Luce guide you up hill and down dale in the first of Alan Bradley\’s Flavia de Luce mysteries, The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie.

Alan Bradley: http://www.flaviadeluce.com/index.php

Available now: Hatchette RRP$32.99


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