It is the summer of 1950 and a series of inexplicable events has struck Buckshaw, the decaying English mansion that Flavia's family calls home. A dead bird is found on the doorstep, a postage stamp bizarrely pinned to its beak. 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.
To Flavia the investigation is the stuff of science: full of possibilities, contradictions, and connections. Soon her father, a man raising his three daughters alone, is seized, accused of murder. And in a police cell, during a violent thunderstorm, Colonel de Luce tells his daughter an astounding story, that of a schoolboy friendship turned ugly, of a priceless object that vanished in a bizarre and brazen act of thievery, of a Latin teacher who flung himself to his death from the school's tower 30 years before. Now Flavia is armed with more than enough knowledge to tie two distant deaths together, to examine new suspects, and begin a search that will lead her all the way to the King of England himself. Of this much the girl is sure: her father is innocent of murder, but protecting her and her sisters from something even worse.
An enthralling mystery, a piercing depiction of class and society, The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie is a masterfully told tale of deceptions and a rich literary delight.
©2009 Alan Bradley; (P)2009 Random House Audio
"Brilliant, irresistible and incorrigible, Flavia has a long future ahead of her...Bradley's mystery debut is a standout." (Kirkus Reviews)
"Fun for the reader.... Fans of Louise Fitzhugh's iconic Harriet the Spy will welcome 11-year-old sleuth Flavia de Luce, the heroine of ... Bradley's rollicking debut." (Publishers Weekly)
Watching young Flavia flying through the English countryside on her bike while plotting revenge on her sisters and clearing up a little murder is just too much fun. I was afraid that Flavia's catastrophic excess of personality might grow wearing, but she really grew on me and it was a fun mystery. Just the thing for a rainy Saturday!
I have never been fond of the technique of first-person narrative in murder mystery. Almost without exception authors that use these technique end at least temporarily using third-person to allow the reader a perspective that is not that of the protagonist and to slide in those subtle clues which we readers (listeners) love.
So what am I to think when I take Audible up on their first-in-series sale and I discover that not only is this a first-person narrative but that the narrator is an eleven year-old girl? My first thought was to return it. But I was out on a long walk so I had
a good hour or so to get into it. And soon I was hooked. The mystery was intricate and intriguing with the author never once coming out of the first-person account,
The narrator/protagonist begins in the often cruel, childish behavior mode of an exceptionally bright, well-to-do girl and develops just enough to remain believable. I should make it clear that this isn't a young-adult story but a true murder mystery and I will be reading more of this series. Don M. in Queen Creek, AZ.
I found this 11 year old, unbelievable, and unlikeable. I did not enjoy her comments about people which were supposed to be clever and funny, but I often thought, just mean. I found the narrator’s unrelenting cheery voice for Flavia, irritating & tiresome. For me, the mystery itself was uninteresting. Flavia’s precociousness is so ridiculous, that I felt the author wanted me to get a grand opinion about himself, rather than this conjured character.
I bought it based on all the positive reviews, but by Chapter 2 I couldn't listen anymore. Seemed silly and like it was for 10 year old girls. I suspect it would have gotten better, based on the number of very positive reviews, but I couldn't wait it out. I found myself rewinding repeatedly because my mind would wander and I just couldn't get used to the voice of the narrator. Just wasn't for me.
I got this book on a recommendation, and have decided to continue with the series mainly because the character is so completely charming and well done. The heroine, Miss Flavia, is at an age between innocence and worldliness, and she's smart and independent, but without the overblown sass that a poorly done young female characters often have.
The narrator captures the character's personality with perfection! The friend who recommended this series was particularly fond of Flavia's indignation when she isn't believed by the adults, and the narrator captures that so incredibly well! I think the narrator adds a fair bit of comedy that is probably in the book but that might not come through as clearly without her talents. This might be one of those books where the audiobook is better than the print book, because of what the narrator brings.
The story is adorable.the precocious main character has a voice and imagination that blurts out hilarious and odd bits of trivia. The narrator is priceless, the best I have encountered. While the conclusion of the story us predictable. It was worth listening to for no other reason than to discover what Flavia thinks or does next!
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