The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie (Flavia de Luce Series #1)

The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie (Flavia de Luce Series #1)

by Alan Bradley
3.9 429


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The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie (Flavia de Luce Series #1) by Alan Bradley

Winner of the CRIME WRITERS' ASSOCIATION DEBUT DAGGER AWARD and the AGATHA AND DILYS AWARD - "A wickedly clever story, a dead-true and original voice" - Laurie R. King

It is the summer of 1950–and at the once-grand mansion of Buckshaw, young Flavia de Luce, an aspiring chemist with a passion for poison, is intrigued by a series of inexplicable events: A dead bird is found on the doorstep, a postage stamp bizarrely pinned to its beak. Then, hours later, Flavia finds a man lying in the cucumber patch and watches him as he takes his dying breath.

For Flavia, who is both appalled and delighted, life begins in earnest when murder comes to Buckshaw. “I wish I could say I was afraid, but I wasn’t. Quite the contrary. This was by far the most interesting thing that had ever happened to me in my entire life.”

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780385342308
Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
Publication date: 04/28/2009
Series: Flavia de Luce Series , #1
Pages: 384
Product dimensions: 7.62(w) x 5.22(h) x 1.32(d)

About the Author

Alan Bradley is the internationally bestselling author of many short stories, children’s stories, newspaper columns, and the memoir The Shoebox Bible. His first Flavia de Luce novel, The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie, received the Crime Writers’ Association Debut Dagger Award, the Dilys Winn Award, the Arthur Ellis Award, the Agatha Award, the Macavity Award, and the Barry Award, and was nominated for the Anthony Award. His other Flavia de Luce novels are The Weed That Strings the Hangman’s Bag, A Red Herring Without MustardI Am Half-Sick of ShadowsSpeaking from Among the Bones, The Dead in Their Vaulted Arches, andAs Chimney Sweepers Come to Dust.

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The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie (Flavia de Luce Series #1) 3.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 428 reviews.
1louise1 More than 1 year ago
The narrator is an extremely intelligent 11 yr. old girl named Flavia in the 1950's England. She lives in an old English estate, Buckshaw, in an unusual, strange, dysfunctional family. Her brilliant mind and wisdom beyond her years drives her to solve local muders and does a better job than the authorities. Well worth your time... Other books I've really enjoyed were, EXPLOSION IN PARIS, FIREFLY LANE, THE FORGOTTEN GARDEN.
Agropina More than 1 year ago
This book was such an easy read. Every night I would read before bed, I would keep telling myself "just a few more pages". Flavia is the most extrordinary 11 year old ever created. Most of the time when I was reading this book I forgot that she was only a child. Bradley kept finding things to bring me back to think "holy crap, she is only 11". Things like her braces, her mode of transportation and her older sisters. Even though Flavia is so well developed, I don't hink that any of the others are at all under-developed. I think that they are developed useing Flavia as their vehicle, but developed well all the same. Once I finished this book I was thirsty for more, I wanted to know more about Flavia. When I found that Bradley has created a new Flavia book, I couldn't have been more excited. I have the new book pre-ordered, and being shipped on it's release date.
RheaT More than 1 year ago
Flavia de Luce is the little girl I would have liked to be. She's brainy, headstrong and a little bit wicked. She's an independent child growing up in a motherless, eccentric household lacking in discipline and regular hours. Being the youngest child she's shirked and overlooked and has to make her own entertainment. Flavia is adventurous and concocts poisonous brews in a remote chemistry lab in the ancestral manse and doesn't hestitate to dive right in investigating a murder that takes place in the kitchen garden. This book has it all, a quirky heroine, good storytelling and a deft author. I think it will appeal especially to teenage girls and women who will identify with, cheer for and accompany Flavia on her adventure.
debbook More than 1 year ago
f there is a thing I truly despise, it is being addressed as "dearie". When I write my magnum opus, A Treatise Upon All Poisons, and come to "Cyanide", I am going to put under "Uses" the phrase "Particularly efficacious in the cure of those who call one 'Dearie.' " - Flavia de Luce Flavia, eleven and the youngest of three sisters, discovers a body in the cucumber patch at her family's estate, Buckshaw in the town of Bishop's Lacey. Just before he dies he utter the word "Vale". Precocious and wise beyond her years, Flavia does not tell all to the police and is determined to solve the murder herself. That was the truth: I didn't know his name. But I did know, and knew it all too well, that the body in the garden-the body with the red hair, the body in the gray suit- was that of the man I'd spied through the sturdy keyhole. The man Father had- But I could hardly tell them that. my review: I LOVED this book. Flavia is a brilliant character. Living in the English countryside in 1950, she spends her time in her chemistry lab that belonged to her now deceased mother, chemistry being her true love, and finding ways to keep up with her older sisters Ophelia and Daphne. She also has a fascination with poisons. It is charming and delightful, fun and engaging. The novel is full of interesting and colorful characters. The writing is excellent and the plot; revenge, boyhood secrets, and rare stamps, kept me hooked throughout. Flavia was really the best part and I am glad to learn that Bradley has written another Flavia mystery, due in March of 2010. I highly recommend this book! my rating 5/5
MinnesotaReader More than 1 year ago
Alan Bradley has ingeniously written a witty, enthralling murder mystery starring precocious Flavia Sabina de Luce. An 11-year-old chemistry whiz, she loves experimenting in her fully equipped lab, especially concocting poisons to use in tormenting her older sisters! Living on an estate with her father and sisters in 1950's rural England, Flavia enjoys riding her bike "Gladys" in the village and countryside. One morning, she finds a dying stranger in their cucumber patch. When her father is arrested for the murder, she sets out to solve the murder, by delving into her father's mysterious years as a schoolboy. As I read, I found myself completely drawn into an engaging atmospheric mystery. Mr. Bradley is a talented storyteller. He has skillfully created an intriguing and captivating plot with a wonderful cast of compelling, well-developed characters. The story is cleverly written in first person using Flavia's unique voice. While experiencing how her mind worked, I truly enjoyed solving the mystery with her every step of the way. Also, Mr. Bradley has brilliantly intertwined very interesting chemistry trivia into the storyline. I really loved this entertaining book and I highly recommend it for everyone! I'm really looking forward to reading the second book in this series, "The Weed that Strings the Hangman's Bag: A Flavia de Luce Mystery". It's due out in March 2010.
Ztarina More than 1 year ago
I loved the entire novel, from beginning to end. Not often does a title so catch you eye that you pick up the book and then the writing gets you in a choke hold so you so can't put it down. The main character, Flavia de Luce, is a matter-of-fact, 11-year-old girl with a Machiavellian brain and the heart of poisoner. Absolutely witty and yet, very natural writing. Perhaps a bit pendantic for the character's age, but the setting in 1950s England can account for her erudition. There is a realness to the work and a quirky no-where-else-in time quality that sets the girl sleuth genre on its ear. This is not your mother's Nancy Drew. This precocious darling could make Sherlock Holmes blink in suprise and awe!
sandyswker More than 1 year ago
Even though this story is written in a child's voice, you find youself thinking that this child is very savy! Flavia de Luce is a very clever child and she is able to uncover secrets that have been left undiscovered for many many years. Sometimes, she does some things that are very childlike, but, for the most part, she is so cunning that she seems like a little Sherlock Holmes! She has incredible deductive reasoning and her knowledge of chemistry was much better than mine. Even though she is young, she gets around town in what I thought of as a motorized scooter. She is very mobile. Her sleuthing is not deminished by her age. She sometimes does show her childishness, and these times make the book all the more delightful! I laughed out loud when she put poison ivy in her sister's lipstick! This is a thoroughly enjoyable read, and I would recommend it to anyone, but especially mystery readers.
Kasia_S More than 1 year ago
I cant' believe this is the author's first work, in short it's really amazing, I mean a gloriously adorable kaleidoscope of words and textures and emotions, pure bliss to read! Set in 1950's England, the mystery has a rustic feel to it but is very easy to read and enjoy. It's not often that the protagonist is an eleven year old little girl, who's as feisty and cunning as it gets. Flava de Luce has a love affair with chemistry. Glass flasks and potions are more fun than hanging out and doing kid stuff so when a murder takes place in her very own garden she's not scared, instead she challenges the world to stop her from solving it, and most important from trying to find her sweet old dad guilty. Sprinkled with clues and obstacles the story is a must read for anyone who likes something a little different and it's delicious to curl up with on a cold and dreary night. Flavia compares chemistry to witchcraft, there's something very organic and cozy about the building elements of life and how they surround us in all forms. She is a wiz at tricking her sisters and playing games on them. What kid would melt her sister's lipstick and melt it back into shape using a .45 caliber slug mold with an interesting addition mixed in, one that would teach her sister respect for the quirky youngster. Even though their mom has passed away, her spirit lives on in all the precious things she left her name on all around the house. The tale is a mystery with some really special characterization and lot's of heart, I think the author has really left his mark on the world with this novel. The mystery wasn't the hardest thing to solve, I mean it wasn't as complex as an Agatha Christie one but still a fun to read, and Flavia's brave escapades were a joy to read. At one point in the story the author lets us know that Flavia started her love for chemistry with one book that fell on her head, well I had one of those books too as a kid, I was obsessed with it, I was never as good as her at it but I know what it feels like to be spellbound by a whole new philosophy and world of unknown wonders. - Kasia S.
jenameyers More than 1 year ago
more interesting than many of the people I run into in the grocery store. I enjoyed this book immensely and have recommended it to several people. The plot was fine but it was the writing style, the use of language, and Miss Flavia herself that made me fall in love with this book.
poosie More than 1 year ago
I loved this book! This delightful, clever and funny murder mystery, set in 1950, is narrated by a brilliant, resourceful 11-year-old protagonist named Flavia Sabina de Luce, who lives in an English country home and whose passions are chemistry, with an emphasis on poisons, and deduction. A lot of historical charm adds dimension to this wonderful, unique storyline!
Addi More than 1 year ago
A dead man is found in Flavia de Luce's yard and her dad is arrested for his murder. She tries to solve the mystery herself, but it gets more complicated at every turn.
gem22 More than 1 year ago
I loved this book! I read mystery novels almost exclusively and have found myself getting bored with the genre lately. This was a welcome change - a unique protagonist, an entertaining plot, and a great writing style. I even learned a little! A must read for mystery fans who want something fresh and light.
jimmiecocoabean More than 1 year ago
Just finished reading the book today, and it was great the whole way through. I absolutely could not put the book down. I took the day off from work just to finish it (sad, but true). I was just so caught up in the mystery of it all. Flavia is a wonderful heroine/protagonist. Being a bit of a nerd myself, I loved that she was so into chemistry, and just really had a great deal of knowledge, in general. Most of all, I enjoyed the relationship she had with her two older sisters,Daffy and Feely. Clearly, she was the runt of the family, and she used that to her advantage a lot in this story. All said, I recommend this book. It's fabulous :)
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is a wonderful, escapist English mystery with a quirky and hilarious main character, Flavia, who has her own chemistry lab on the 3rd floor of their English manse. When a dead body is found in the cucumber garden, Flavia is determined to solve the crime, like a young Miss Marple. I loved it..down to it's green cover!
TheRealMystery More than 1 year ago
The Real Mystery? How a 70-year old man created such a believably compelling and insightful little girl and why it took him so long to introduce her to us! Flavia de Luce is a precocious eleven year old with an obsession for chemistry and a proclivity for poisons. When she discovers a dead man in their cucumber patch, she’s not scared at all. Deliciously morbid intrigue drives her to study the evidence in her fully-stocked chemistry lab at the family estate in the English countryside. In spite of two older sisters and a distant, philatelist father, Flavia uses some science, her bicycle named Gladys and a lot of logical reasoning to the aid of the police that so obviously need her expertise. It was a delightfully fresh new take on a tried and true theme. This book has a lot going on; it’s in a historical setting, the narrator is a little girl, and I’ve never learned so much about stamp-collecting. Flavia holds it all together beautifully as she fearlessly investigates the most exciting event in her young memory, uncovering clues and motives that will send chills down even the most mature spine. I’m eager to see how the young ingenue grows into a young lady in the coming books!
DSaff More than 1 year ago
"Unless some sweetness at the bottom lie, Who cares for all the crinkling of the pie?" pg. 419 Flavia is an eleven year old girl with a huge imagination, a gift for chemistry, and a love of "solving." She lives at Buckshaw with her father and two sisters (Ophelia - 17 y.o., and Daphne - 13 y.o.). After a dead bird is found by their door and a dead body in the garden, Flavia sets out to solve the crime. Did someone in her own house do this? If so, who? If not, who acted unnoticed around them? Flavia calls on all of her knowledge to puzzle out pieces to the puzzle. But, will she figure it out in time? Will she be found out? I really enjoyed this book and had a hard time putting it down. While it was hard to think of an eleven year old working through some of these scientific puzzles, it was also intriguing to step into her mind. It was fun to read about her process for extracting poisons from plants. The characters are fun, and the story drew me in. If you haven't read a fun mystery lately, this is the book for you! I hope it becomes a series so that I can follow her exploits!
PricelessReads More than 1 year ago
What a breath of fresh air! There are jewels on nearly every page of this delightful mystery. I'm always drawn to adult books written about children, and Flavia certainly did not disappoint. I was hooked from the first page, and am so glad that this is only the first book in the series!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This was a fantastic book, depending largely on the charms of its protagonist (the titular 11 year old chemistry prodigy). It's well-written and clever, and while the mystery isn't terribly difficult to figure out, the writing and the characters keep you invested anyway.
KrisPA More than 1 year ago
I've been writing a lot of reviews lately and they have all been mostly negative. I'm so happy to say that this book is a great read. I really like Flavia, the 11 yr old protagonist. She is sassy and too smart for her own good. I love that she decides she is going to solve the crime herself (in fact, she solves two)and persists despite all the obstacles in her way. Along with her faithful steed Gladys, Flavia is tireless in her pursuit of the truth, even if it means climbing ontop of a roof or confronting the Bad Guy. This is an unusual mystery with an unusual detective. Long live Flavia.
Sandywick More than 1 year ago
Flavia de Luce is a confident, gifted 11 year old that dapples in chemistry, her specialty is poison. She is determined to solve a mystery (the dead man she found in the cucumbers) and manages to get herself into quite a few tight spots, a little like Nancy Drew would but with much more character. This is the first of the series and it was a fun read.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The perfect murder mystery for someone who doesn't like creepy, sadistic murder mysteries. Flavia's quick wit and perspective on the world make this novel a winner.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Both author Bradley and his main girl Flavia are whip smart, concocting stories that are wickedly entertaining. A must read.
hanro More than 1 year ago
Ok ... I love the terribly precocious and insurmountable Flavia: her fascination with science in general, and her extensive knowledge of chemistry especially poisons, her vengeful relationship with her sisters, her wistful longing for her mother, her protective attitude of her father and Dogger. It's a Brit detective story set in the countryside with a good dose of dark humor. Can't wait to read the rest of the series.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is a great book for young adult readers. The character is unique, funny and memorable. I give it high marks and well worth your time and effort, especially younger readers
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Could not finish it. Kept hoping the characters would devleop more but gave up about 1/2 way through. Don't understand what the attraction was.