Eleven-year old Flavia de Luce, the heroine of this appealing detective debut (the first in a series), brings a breath of fresh air to the world of period-piece sleuthing.
Brainy, funny and pigtailed, Flavia spends her days concocting poisons to try out on her spiteful elder sisters. Her experiments, however, are unexpectedly postponed by a much more exciting event in her life – the discovery of a corpse in the family cucumber patch.
A post-war English country house murder ensues, with stamp-collecting and ornithology. Cosily arcane and modishly fast-paced...
Set in an English village in 1950, The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie reads like a cross between Dodie Smith's I Capture the Castle (posh family fallen on hard times, dead mother, disengaged father, crumbling pile) and the Addams family (Flavia has a well-appointed laboratory where she makes poisons to test on her spiteful elder sisters). A strong plot, involving philately, ornithology and prestidigitation, and a wonderful supporting cast make this Canadian novelist's debut delightfully entertaining.