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)
At 63, it's hard for me to adequately justify why I found this entire series about an 11 year-old sleuth so appealing. Young Flavia seems to think like an adult. But if you think back to the time you were a child, I'm sure you will remember how much you hated grown-ups acting like you were a piece of furniture, with no independent thought. I knew at age 3 that I hated broccoli - nothing has changed in 6 decades! Author Alan Bradley's depiction is spot on. The humor is tongue in cheek and often a real belly buster. This is also the very rare pairing of a great book with the perfect narrator. If Jayne Ebtwistle is ever replaced, this series will lose 50% of its appeal. I've read the entire series, just finishing the most recently released book which ended with a mind-blowing clift-hanger. I can't wait for book 6.
Mysteries, classics, non-fiction, time travel, Bounty hunters, grim reapers... anything but vampires, please!
Who knew that a preteen point of view could hold my attention as well as my empathy?
Yes... But spanning a weekend DIY Project. It would be a great road trip listen.
I'll be buying the rest in the series.
I listened to this book and just loved it. I read the next one (Hangman...) and didn't enjoy it nearly as much as I missed the fabulous narration by Jane Entwistle. Her reading of this book really makes a good book, great. Thanks Jane!
Retired CFO, Army wife, Mom of five, Grandma of six, two sons who served in combat, love to read books that reflect my values and faith, love mysteries, historical, military stories, and books that don't waste my time . . . if it doesn't have an ending that was worth the wait, I'm not a happy camper.
This book is both a fun listen and interesting . . . I love that it is narrated from an eleven year old's point of view . . . a curious, intelligent girl who speaks the Queen's English . . . and not unlike our own daughter, is not in the least grossed out by blood, dead specimens, dissecting things and generally grew up loving chemistry and research. So when she discovers a dead man among the cucumbers in the English garden, it only gets better from there. The story spans some 30 years and Flavia must work to solve the unfortunate man's murder by doing a lot of "foot work" and risk her life doing it. The story is NOT predictable at all, and I look forward to the next story in the series.
I especially enjoy historical mysteries. I don't like to know how things end before I begin.
I could hardly wait to recommend this to my grand daughters and their parents. A delightful story that will entertain anyone who can read. The central character is a precocious young English girl whose vocabulary and skills in a chemistry lab suspend belief and yet I accepted them. The plot moves quickly while still masking its twists and turns from the reader. I look forward to reading another in the series. Hope Bradley can keep up the pace.
In choosing this book I broke my own two important rules. #1- Read ALL the reviews #2 LISTEN to the sample. The reviewer who said the narrator was annoying was so right. Unfortunately I read a few of the positive comments and clicked "buy". I disliked the narrator from the first chapter and could not get through even 2 hours before quitting. I understand that she is trying to sound like a young girl and it really misses the mark. To me, the narrator makes Flavia sound like a brat.
I'm glad this book has such a great following, for it is clever and amusing, but do listen before you buy. I don't even want to read the print version now as I would "hear" that voice. Flavia is ruined for me. And only myself to blame.
I loved this book and the narrator was wonderful, capuring perfectly the voice of its precocious main character. I went on to listen to the second book and like that one equally as wekk. I look forward to more in this series.
Irresistable! I agree with Jonathan of Ottowa's review wholeheartedly. This is one of two (so far) Flavia de Luce books by Alan Bradley - I think both are delightful. I highly recommend this series and hope Bradley will write more, and that Entwhistle will narrate them - she brings them so beautifully to life. The main character is a smart, witty, observant, precocious (in a fun, amusing way) Pippi Longstocking type character - full of mischief, independent spirit and bursting with the sheer joy of being alive. Flavia, whose mother died when she was one, lives with her sisters and father on her family's old country estate in England. She loves scientific experiments and solving mysteries. She weaves facts about science and history with funny and often wise observations about life - these contribute to and never get in the way of the flow of the story. The descriptions of English country life and of the landscape and village characters are also good and round out the story. It was an act of genius to pair this delightful heroine with narration by Jayne Entwhistle - It's an inspired combination that adds to the truly fun experience of listening to the story. I have been a member of audible for years and cannot remember enjoying a character or a story more than this. This book (as well as The Weed That Strings The Hangman's Bag) have made me smile and laugh out loud with the wit, spunkiness and vibrance that Entwhistle conveys through her narration of the character of Flavia. Please write more in this great series, Mr. Bradley, and please have Entwhistle narrate any forthcoming books in the series, Audible. Though written by a man, I think perhaps this series might appeal in a special way to females. It is not a children's book, but will appeal to persons of any age who remember what it was like to be eleven years and old and full of enthusiasm, curiosity and energy for life.
Easy listening to! Love Jayne's voice/accent/pronunciation. One of those stories that just makes you feel good listening to it.
Yes, I would recommend this audiobook to a friend because the mystery was particularly well contrived, the similes and metaphors used throughout the story added to the descriptions (they were usually very clever), and the reader did a masterful job.
Yes. The plot was always moving forward and was helped by the superb development of the main character, Flavia.
I particularly enjoyed the scenes in which Flavia interacted with the local constabulary.
The scene in which Flavia went to visit her father.
I will be listening to more from this series. My only complaint was the use of the "D" word - particularly by an 11-year-old character. Apart from that, the mystery and the performance of it were masterful.
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