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Book Review: The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie

The first of the Flavia de Luce series, but certainly not the last with such a title.

Book being reviewed: The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie

By: Alan Bradley 

Pages: 306 (hardcover)

Genre: Mystery, Fiction

It all starts with a dead snipe on the doorstep with a stamp through its beak and shortly after a dead body in the garden. Then suddenly, the young, British amateur sleuth, Flavia de Luce,  is called away from the comfort of her chemistry lab to prove her father’s not the murderer. Through incredible writing, Flavia’s quick, quirky mind, pie, and the magic of poisons, one thing leads to another and Flavia is on the adventure of a lifetime. The story is peppered with witty moments and intrigue, keeping your undivided attention as Flavia, sneaking around the 1950’s English countryside, deals with her sour older sisters (Ophelia and Daphne) as she ultimately discovers the truth.  But it becomes much more than a whodunit, rather the unraveling of de Luce’s family secrets and Flavia’s mysterious part in them. 

The author, Alan Bradley, was born in Ontario Canada, and grew up in Cobourg. He often was a sickly child confined to his bed reading. When he got to high school, he would spend time in the cemetery because he didn’t fit socially. When he grew up, he began a career in television engineering, helping set up a broadcasting station at the University of Saskatchewan. He worked there as the Director of Television Engineering  for 25 years, before retiring as a full time writer. He started his writing with short plays and articles for the BBC. Then he moved on to his first book, Ms. Holmes of Baker Street, published in 1989. Finally, after a number of other books, the first of the Flavia de Luce series was published in 2009. Yes it’s a series, he wrote 9 more books after the Sweetness of the Bottom of the Pie, earning numerous awards. He now lives in England on the Isle of Man. 

What worked well about this book was how smoothly the author connected everything.  The dialogue, chemistry rants, and moments of action transitioned throughout the book with purpose.  The story carried me along, ever consistent in Flavia’s tone, her puzzling out, funny quips, and sometimes arrogant thoughts. One thing that might pose as a stumbling block at first is the amount of factual chemistry in the mystery. But as you read on it becomes apparent that the story would not be the same without it. Chemistry is written into Flavia’s personality, her enthusiasm, and perspective. It was not mundane, but alive and interesting in the way Falvia describes it. It is definitely a unique read, and hard to put down. The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie keeps readers’ attention and piques their interest. I highly recommend this fabulous book!

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About the Contributor
Christina Cherniske, Staff Writer
Christina is a senior E.O Smith. She is into reading, playing piano, dancing, and writing for E.O's Newspaper. This is her fourth year a part of Panther Press.

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