The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie

A Flavia de Luce Mystery
Narrated by: Jayne Entwistle
Series: Flavia de Luce Mysteries, Book 1
Length: 9 hrs and 53 mins
4 out of 5 stars (4,665 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

In his wickedly brilliant first novel, Debut Dagger Award winner Alan Bradley introduces one of the most singular and engaging heroines in recent fiction: 11-year-old Flavia de Luce, an aspiring chemist with a passion for poison.

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

Critic Reviews

"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

"While Flavia De Luce is winning your heart, she may also be poisoning your tea. She's the most wickedly funny sleuth in years, brilliant, unpredictable, unflappable - and only eleven. The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie offers the freshest new voice in mystery yet." (Charles Todd, author of The Ian Rutledge series)

Featured Article: 20 Best Mystery Audiobooks to Entertain Your Inner Sleuth


Looking for the perfect audiobook to keep you engrossed and engaged during your next long drive, weekend chores, or a long work day? Look no further than this list of puzzling, mind-bending mysteries that will have you holding on to every word as the narrator pulls you in on the search for clues. We’ve narrowed this wide-spanning genre down to 20 of the best mystery audiobooks we’ve heard so you can get to listening and searching for answers.

What listeners say about The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie

Average Customer Ratings
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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Phenomenal!

To say that Jane Entwhistle read this audiobook and did it justice would be a grave understatement - this book absolutely leapt to life for me in her amazing reading.

At its core, there is a mystery afoot in the life of Flavia, a young girl in a rambling estate in the UK of the 1950's, and though certainly the arrival of a corpse in the cucumber patch would be enough to send a weaker soul to faint, Flavia is not that soul.

Flavia is hands down my favorite character of 2009 to date; she has a strong mind, a true love of chemistry, and a special fondness for poisons. Her mind is a joy to step inside, and her realization that her father might go down for the murder of the man in the cucumber patch is enough to put her considerable gumption and knowledge to the task of proving him innocent.

Alan Bradley has spun a delightful and completely engrossing tale here, and I look forward to more.

44 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars

A little slice of the English countryside

I bought this just yesterday looking for something light and fun to listen to and I was not disappointed. My only hesitation had been that the eleven year old heroine might be a bit childish, but I was very surprised to discover that I liked the intelligent tomboyish Flavia immensely. She is a precocious, mischievous little Sherlock Holmes who never once lost my attention. The stodgy English backdrop to this little mystery is full of wonderful characters that flesh out the scene and give life to Flavia's world. The mystery is reminiscent of a Holmes scenario and it too had me itching to get back to the audio book as soon as I woke up this morning. It's a very intelligent story full of interesting chemistry tid-bits and historical references that made me feel as if I'd found a delightful juvenile detective series on BBC to lose myself in for a bit. And I found the narration to be superb! I listened to the sample as a few reviews suggested and never once found Entwistle to disappoint. Im downloading the second book now without hesitation!

33 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Terrific story...spot-on narration

A nicely written mystery with all the classic elements: an English estate, an argument late at night, a dead body in the garden, a murder investigation. In the hands of a lesser writer, these elements could signify a contrived, cookie-cutter mystery. This is far from it. It follows some basic patterns expected in a mystery, but delivered in the first person narrative by a completely likeable, precocious eleven year old, it turns into a very engaging, suspenseful, funny and entertaining story.

I loved Jayne Entwhistle's reading, her voice and inflections perfectly capture what one might expect of an eleven year old telling her tale and really brings this story to life. This was so thoroughly enjoyable that I will probably let it sit in my ipod for awhile longer so I may listen to it again later.

36 people found this helpful

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very enjoyable

I really enjoyed this book (if you couldn't tell from my title). I probably would have given it a 4.5 if it had been possible because the mystery wasn't super tight, but leaned to the 5.

It was well narrated. Many have complained about this, but I think each voice is perfectly done. The heroin is a 9 year old precocious aristocrat. It may be that those who found the voice annoying really would find the heroin annoying if they were to meet her in real life. If that is the case you probably shouldn't be listen to this series. On the contrary I found that they nature of the characters and their world was the most intriguing part of the story. Flavia behaves as a precocious 9 year old would. Her area of interest just happens to be chemistry. In the world of high mindedness and proper English living it would not be that unusual.

The mystery is done very much in the vein of Sherlock Holmes where details are everything and the pieces slowly start to fall into place by the end of the story. Again, the mystery does not have the tight reveal of some books, but is well done none the less.

Over all I would highly recommend the book for the character development, its fun flair, the narration, and the way the story transports you to the period in which it is written.

16 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars

OUTSTANDING!!

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.

24 people found this helpful

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Just not for me.

Would you try another book from Alan Bradley and/or Jayne Entwistle?

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.

7 people found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars

Couldn't get past first Chapter: Narration Problem

I read previous reviews complaining about the narrator, and I listened to the sample and thought "that's not bad..." and got the book because the physical copy has been recommended to me a few times before.

The narrator sounds like your friend who is a friendly gossip, and is telling you something particularly fun/juicy. Which in small doses, is fun, and brings a smile to your face. It's infectious and just plane friendly! But here's the thing, the ENTIRE book is like that. It makes it sound like EVERYTHING is a gooey truth. There is no nuance. And it makes it highly irritating.I just want to say "Hey, it's okay, I get it, just talk normally for now, and when it's something really good, you can lay it on thick."

Unfortunately, I just couldn't get through the first chapter, and I really really wanted to like it.

9 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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Flavia is a delight

Oh, why did I wait so long to read this book? For years I have heard nothing but good things about Flavia De Luce, yet I left her sitting on my shelf, gathering dust for years. So, I finally decided to give in and pick up the audio version of the novel to enhance my experience. I was captivated.

Okay, yes, an 11-year-old sleuth solving a murder is fairly unrealistic. However, I loved Flavia so much, her dry humour had me chucking throughout the story.

On top of that, what I liked about this particular book was that the mystery was quite interesting despite a rather obvious killer, and I learned a few interesting tidbits about philately along the way.

As for the narration, I wasn't quite sure that I liked Jayne Entwistle at first, although after warming up to the voice, I thought she did an excellent job bringing Flavia to life.

In the end, I absolutely loved The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie, and I cannot wait to follow Flavia's adventures in the following books.

I would highly recommend this story to my fellow mystery lovers.

2 people found this helpful

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Ah, Flavia, my new heroine!

A delightful beginning to what will most probably be the best "new cozy series." I thoroughly enjoyed this story & look forward to the next one. And --- I'm not a teen but in my 80's! Flavia is smart - love all the chemistry & physics references - and at the same time she is still a young girl. She has to deal with a disinterested father & 2 older "meany" sisters. Yea for Flavia - cheer her on!

2 people found this helpful

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Delicious!

I'll have another piece of that pie please! Seriously, this is the most delightful surprise. I wasn't expecting that much and in fact, put off listening until a few days ago and now I cannot bear for it to end. Jayne Entwistle is absolutely brilliant in her portrayal of Flavia and I am savoring every morsel of this debut novel. Looking forward to the next one in the series and praying that the author gives us lots more of Flavia.

11 people found this helpful