Friday, May 28, 2010

The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie

After North Korea, drug addicts in Chicago and childhood in Iran during the Cultural Revolution, I needed a short break! So let's go to 1950s England and solve a murder with an 11-year old girl.

"The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie" was one of the selections Paul Ingram added to my book stack while at Prairie Lights in Iowa City. I could not find Alan Bradley's exact age (and did not look too hard on the Friday before Memorial Day) but he's in his 70s and is receiving numerous awards for this book.

The heroine/detective is 11-year old Flavia de Luce. Because the main character solving the crime is a child, and not an adult, she gets some slack when she mis-reads people or misses a clue. It's not to say she is not smart. She is passionate about chemistry and has a big rivalry with her two older sisters. Add a romanticized dead mother and a distant father and you have the de Luces.

I won't give anything away about the plot in case you want to read it. As with most mysteries it's not really about the crime but more about the characters. Flavia has great side-kick in Dogger, the family's jack of all trades servant. Flavia also realizes, during the course of this story, that her father is a person with a history of his own and his own burdens that might keep him from being as warm and loving as Flavia might want.

This is a Summer book. Or a book for anytime of the year when you could use a little break and an armchair escape to England. The dialog was good with some slang I did not always understand but that did not hinder my enjoyment. It's light and I have the second one in the series, also courtesy of Paul Ingram, so we'll see what mystery Flavia solves next.

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