Alan Bradley, The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie

Alan Bradley has produced a superb mystery set in the summer of 1950. Eleven-year-old Flavia de Luces watches a stranger take his dying breath in the nearby cucumber patch. Coupled with the recent find of a dead bird with a postage stamp pinned to its beak and an unknown adversary arguing with her elusive father, Flavia finds herself embroiled in a mystery, which she is left to solve.

Ingenious and enticing, this unique story combines a nostalgic sensibility with a compelling murder mystery. When mixed with amazing characters, such as Flavia’s two sisters with whom she is constantly at odds and her pensive father, the depth of the book becomes quite apparent. The story is, in many ways, an instant classic waiting to be crowned.

Keeping that in mind, there is one issue that can be difficult to pass: while Flavia makes for an interesting heroine, it is hard to wrap your mind around a child acting as a serious protagonist in such an adult situation. She is the narrator as well as investigator, and her voice doesn’t always jive with the story. But if you can suspend your disbelief sufficiently, Flavia is a highly enjoyable character and the story is a great read.

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