I have to confess, I’m a casual reader of mysteries at best. I do enjoy the genre, when I find a good mystery that I love. But sometimes I just forget to read them. When I was browsing my library the other day (and in my household, that’s only a day that ends in y), there was a display featuring Alan Bradley’s Flavia de Luce novels. I thought, “Why not?” So I decided that my Fourth of July vacation week would be a perfect time to enjoy the first mystery, The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie. And enjoy it I did.
Flavia de Luce is a budding chemist and detective trapped in an 11-year-old girl’s body in 1950. Her mother Harriet died when she was a toddler, and her father and aloof older sisters keep to themselves. Flavia therefore cooks up concoctions to keep herself from being bored to distraction. Her specialty is poisons, including a poison-ivy lipstick she gives to her sister Ophelia. One morning, a crow lands on the family doorstep, dead, with a stamp speared through its beak. And then, she wanders through the garden to find a man dying in the cucumber patch. He whispers, “Vale!” and then dies, leaving her with a mystery on her hands.
I definitely found the novel entertaining and enjoyable. Flavia is a bit of a brat, but she’s endearing and delightful at the same time. Flavia’s bluntness and doggedness make her a heroine to root for, even if she’s a bit immature at times (but understandable for someone who is still a child). I am looking forward to reading more of the mysteries, as I found the mystery to be well crafted and engaging.