Thursday, April 16, 2009

The Sweetness At The Bottom Of The Pie-Alan Bradley

The Sweetness At The Bottom Of The Pie
Alan Bradley
Delacorte, Apr 28 2009, $23.00
ISBN: 9780385342308

In 1950 in a remote English village, eleven years old Flavia de Luce the chemist plots revenge against her pain in the butt snobby older sisters, Ophelia and Daphne. However, her considerations of various poisons while she should be sleeping are interrupted when an angry volatile redheaded stranger confronts her widower father Colonel de Luce in the cucumber patch. Wanting to know more, the expert keyhole listener pays careful attention and learns that the newcomer accuses her father of stealing a valuable stamp, which led to a schoolmaster committing suicide. Though she knows her dad is an avid collector, Flavia has a problem with him being a thief; her sisters perhaps but not dad.

Soon after the accusation, the stranger dies in bed. Inspector Hewitt arrests the Colonel for murder. Flavia insists to Hewitt that she witnessed the spat, but he ignores her as a child of the culprit. With the help of battle fatigue victim Dogger the gardener, Flavia investigates that is when she is not lacing poison in Ophelia’s lipstick or hiding Daphne’s book.

THE SWEETNESS AT THE BOTTOM OF THE PIE is a superb young adult historical investigative tale starring a brilliant sleuth who apparently proves to be a chip off the old block; her late mom that is. The story line is fast-paced from the moment the great chemist concocts plans to poison Ophelia’s lipstick and never slows down as fearless Flavia investigates the stamp theft and its related two homicides. Her asides are worth the admission price as Alan Bradley introduces readers to a wonderful anti-heroine tweener.

Harriet Klausner