Bradley, Alan The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie
Delacorte see Random 2009 373p 23.00 978-0-385-34230-8 hs/adult
11-year-old Flavia deLuce uses her passion for chemistry and knowledge of poisons to catch a murderer and clear her father’s name. Winner of the Debut Dagger Award from Canada’s Crime Writers’ Association, this delightful and irreverent mystery features a precocious 11-year-old sleuth. Set in the period following World War II, Flavia is the youngest of three sisters. She has a passion for chemistry, inherited from her adventurous late mother, and a special interest in poisons. When a dead bird with a stamp impaled on its beak, and later a dead man, shows up in her garden, Flavia sets out to solve this mystery, and clear her father’s name.
This delightful novel will probably appeal more to adults than teens, as Flavia employs an extraordinary vocabulary, as well as exceptional deductive skills. However, there is nothing in this novel that will make this unsuitable for middle and high school readers. And there is much to love about this 11-year-old Sherlock Holmes, and her powers of deduction, that include researching old newspapers in her town library. A period piece that is out and out fun to read, exciting and clever, with a gripping encounter with the killer, in the library outbuilding, that will leave readers breathless. Only the British setting, the literary illusions and vocabulary limit the universal appeal and keep this novel from Books of Note. PN