The Sweetness At The Bottom Of The Pie

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The Sweetness At The Bottom Of The Pie

by Alan Bradley

Doubleday Canada | November 10, 2009 | Trade Paperback

The Sweetness At The Bottom Of The Pie is rated 4.2308 out of 5 by 26.
Winner of the 2007 Crime Writers’ Association Debut Dagger

A delightfully dark English mystery, featuring precocious young sleuth Flavia de Luce and her eccentric family.

The summer of 1950 hasn’t offered up anything out of the ordinary for eleven-year-old Flavia de Luce: bicycle explorations around the village, keeping tabs on her neighbours, relentless battles with her older sisters, Ophelia and Daphne, and brewing up poisonous concoctions while plotting revenge in their home’s abandoned Victorian chemistry lab, which Flavia has claimed for her own.

But then a series of mysterious events gets Flavia’s attention: A dead bird is found on the doormat, a postage stamp bizarrely pinned to its beak. A mysterious late-night visitor argues with her aloof father, Colonel de Luce, behind closed doors. And in the early morning Flavia finds a red-headed stranger lying in the cucumber patch and watches him take his dying breath. For Flavia, the summer begins in earnest when murder comes to Buckshaw: “I wish I could say I was afraid, but I wasn’t. Quite the contrary. This was by far the most interesting thing that had ever happened to me in my entire life.”

Did the stranger die of poisoning? There was a piece missing from Mrs. Mullet’s custard pie, and none of the de Luces would have dared to eat the awful thing. Or could he have been killed by the family’s loyal handyman, Dogger… or by the Colonel himself! At that moment, Flavia commits herself to solving the crime — even if it means keeping information from the village police, in order to protect her family. But then her father confesses to the crime, for the same reason, and it’s up to Flavia to free him of suspicion. Only she has the ingenuity to follow the clues that reveal the victim’s identity, and a conspiracy that reaches back into the de Luces’ murky past.

A thoroughly entertaining romp of a novel, The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie is inventive and quick-witted, with tongue-in-cheek humour that transcends the macabre seriousness of its subject.


From the Hardcover edition.

Format: Trade Paperback

Dimensions: 400 pages, 8 × 5.2 × 1.05 in

Published: November 10, 2009

Publisher: Doubleday Canada

Language: English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10: 0385665830

ISBN - 13: 9780385665834

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Reviews

Rated 5 out of 5 by from delightfully dark and funny. Mini Book Review: As usual when I love a book I struggle with reviewing it. My jumbled way of writing (not to mention my way of speaking) cannot due justice to the brilliance of this story. Flavia is a delightfully wicked little imp. She is charming yet devilishly naughty and positively brilliant. I fell in love with her within 5 paragraphs of this wonderfully charming, yet fast paced story. Bradly is a gifted storyteller and it was the kind of book you just don't want to put down. The opening paragraph hooks you in and it just keeps getting better and better. It is full of dark twisted humour, fascinating secondary characters and an enchanting setting. I need to move in to Buckshaw just to spend time in my dream library. I am a little disappointed that I have to read 4 or 5 other books before I can get to the next story in this wonderful series. I look forward to learning more about Flavia and her truly unique world. I think fans of The Spellman Files will enjoy as well. Favorite Quote "I made the Girl Guide three-eared bunny salute with my fingers. I did not tell him that I was technically no longer a member of that organization, and hadn't been since I was chucked out for manufacturing ferric hydroxide to earn my Domestic Service badge. No one had seemed to care that it was the antidote for arsenic poisoning." 5 Dewey's I purchased this after my coworker and Fellow Jen recommended it to me - Thanks Jen, you were bang on
Date published: 2013-04-13
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Loved it! Easily on my list of top five favourite books I've read this year. I couldn't put this book down. The sibling rivalry, along with Flavia's sharp tongue had me laughing through the pages. I am very excited to find this new author and look forward to reading more of Flavia's adventures in chemistry, crime solving, and sisterly revenge.
Date published: 2012-10-01
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Flavia, the great sleuth of England (Nancy Drew's distant cousin?) Flavia, Flavia, Flavia - the youngest of the 3 daughters of Mr. De Luce. The story takes place in the 1950s in English countryside. She is one firecracker with a scientific mind. Follow her as she discovers a dying man in the cucumber patch and how her father lands in jail, only for her to find the culprit on her adventures with Gladys (her bike). I enjoyed this book, as the character reminded me a bit of Nancy Drew
Date published: 2012-09-05
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Terrific find! I'm delighted to have discovered Alan Bradley and his unusual and engaging characters. This is not your average mystery but is definitely a series I shall continue reading. It may not be for everyone but those who like quirky, flawed characters should give it a try.
Date published: 2012-07-30
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Good book, brilliant narrator 3.75 stars 11-year old Flavia de Luce loves chemistry and is very interested in poisons. When she discovers someone who has been murdered in her yard, she sets out to figure out what happened. I listened to the audio and I loved the narrator. I also loved Flavia. I loved her character and the way "she" (or the author) described things. Despite all this, my mind did wander at times, so I did miss things, so I'm rating the book a 3.5, "good", with an extra .25 stars for the brilliant narrator, Jane Entwhistle.
Date published: 2012-05-13
Rated 4 out of 5 by from A really nice read!! This book was a really nice read. Flavia is one amazing kid. Her antics made me laugh and I could just picture her being a little brat to her sisters!!!. I enjoyed the easiness of the book.
Date published: 2012-05-04
Rated 3 out of 5 by from No punch The story wasn't badly written but I found that it lacked that punch that makes me want to pick up the book at any spare moment. I found it somewhat predictable and it really lacked the highs and lows that captivate my attention. Maybe geared more towards youth?
Date published: 2011-09-14
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Horray for Flavia I absolutely loved this book, along with the two that have followed. Flavia is a charming character that keeps you intrigued throughout the entire book. I would recommend this to anyone, and have several times already.
Date published: 2011-09-08
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Top Notch The best book I've ever read... and I've read a lot of mysteries! The writing is sublime. Flavia is a wonderful character.
Date published: 2011-07-17
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Liked it, but did not love it I enjoyed Bradley's writing and the main character, Flavia. The book was very cleverly written and witty. I did not however, love the book and I do not think I will read the sequel.
Date published: 2011-05-04
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Terrific read! I loved this book. It was a selection in my book club last year and it was my favorite of all last year's choices. I can't wait to start on the sequel.
Date published: 2011-03-26
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Sweet, but I would like it sweeter Let's go straight into it shall we? Flavia de Luce would like that. Alan Bradley is a talented writer, there is no denying that. Not only is his language fluent and easy on the reader, he has a knack in transporting the reader to the "scene of the crime," the book's setting - that old English countryside of once-prestigious estates in the post-WWII world. It evoked a similar feeling and style, although a little darker and more mysterious than, of a recent British period drama series, Downton Abbey, that I watched in the fall of 2010. Quite a feat for a local author who had never been to England as he penned the book! Bradley must also have a wealth of information stored in his brain or done copious amount of research for the chemistry knowledge and other encyclopedic information that he includes in the plot. Which brings me to our 11-year old mystery detective, Flavia. Her obsession with poison and over-precociousness sometimes is a bit too much. It surely made for an interesting character and at least Bradley did provide some context as to why Flavia is as smart as she is. While I did enjoy the book, I don't feel the draw towards reading the second and the recently published third novel. Mystery lovers, however, should definitely give it a try.
Date published: 2011-02-18
Rated 5 out of 5 by from You'll want to read this in one Sitting Flavia de Luces is the most interesting eleven year old that I have met in quite some time. Not only is she fascinated by poisons, so even uses them on her unsuspecting sisters. Love that special lipstick she makes for her eldest sister. Now Flavia is not the only intriguing person in her household. Her mother Harriet is missing and presumed dead for many years. Dogger, Arthur Wellesley Dogger, is currently the gardener, but has performed a number of roles in the manner over the years. He continues to suffer flashbacks to the war. I also find Mrs. Mullet the cook unusual. She puts up with all the oddities of the family and never comments. I hope to see more of her in a future book. Finally, there is her father. He has quite the wide and varied background which is very slowly and deliberately revealed to us, but only in the slimmest of details. I thorough loved this book. Were I a young teen I would have re-read it a half dozen times by now. The characters are so real that I immediately wanted to love or hate them or totally ignore them as irrelevant to me. The setting is so well described that I could imagine myself pedalling down the lane alongside of Flavia. I highly recommend this novel to all, regardless of age, who enjoy a good mystery. I am looking forward to The Weed that Strings the Hangman's Bag, the next adventure in this series.
Date published: 2010-10-26
Rated 1 out of 5 by from Be warned... This book reads like a young adult detective story. It reminded me of old Encyclopedia Brown books I read as a kid. It is fine if you enjoy this type of book, or are expecting it - I wasn't. I found it a chore to read.
Date published: 2010-07-08
Rated 2 out of 5 by from The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie When I read the back of this book in the bookstore I was excited. I am a chemistry buff and when I read that the main character was an aspiring eleven year old chemist named Flavia de Luce I just had to buy it. The book takes place in the summer of 1950. Flavia finds a man lying in the cucumber patch and watches him die. Thus starts the mystery of who killed this man and why a dead bird with a postage stamp pinned on its beak was found on the doorstep of Flavia's home. Flavia is the youngest of three girls in a family who has lost the matriarch of the home. A budding chemist who loves to torture her sisters, Flavia is smart and loves to roam and learn. Her father is into philately and is removed emotionally from the girls and seems quite unaware of their lives. When the father is arrested for murder, Flavia is determined to solve the mystery of the dead man from the cucumber patch. I was expecting a lot from this book and unfortunately I was disappointed. Mysteries always seem to disappoint me due to lack of character development and so much emphasis on plot, but I thought this one might be different, but it was not. I was hoping for more chemistry and more attachment to characters; the book did not deliver either. "The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie" by Alan Bradley should appeal to those who love mysteries without gore, violence or bad language. It is a squeaky clean book, which is a good thing. It contains enough chemistry and poisons to entertain those who just want a spattering of chemistry knowledge and it also provides a good dose of knowledge about philately.
Date published: 2010-06-28
Rated 5 out of 5 by from The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie Flavia de Luce, a little smartass curmudgeon, with a lightning quick mind, is like no other 11 year old girl. Her prestigious family lives in Buckshaw, the rambling ancestral estate of the de Luces. Her father either bolts himself in his study to pursue his philetist interests or in his aging Rolls Royce to grieve the long past death of his wife Harriet; her sister Daphne always has her head buried in Dickens or some other esoteric author; and her sister Ophelia spends her hours staring at her reflection and primping or absorbed in playing her piano. Flavia is left to her own devices, which would be to indulge in her obsessive interest in Chemistry in the laboratory she has claimed as her own at Buckshaw. When Flavia stumbles upon a man dying in the early hours of the morning in Buckshaw's cucumber patch and with his last odorous exhale states “Vale”, she determinedly sets out to investigate the manner of his death. Flavia is delicious in her pleasure of things of a gruesome nature. I often found myself chuckling at her over the top rudeness, diabolical thoughts and ornery nature. Flavia tries to be this strong, indomitable force, yet we are shown that at her heart she is still an 11 year old girl with a clutch of insecurities. The novel is a complex formula in itself; layers and sidesteps and sequences all combined together to form a brilliant deduction. The quality of the writing is first rate, with vivid descriptions of a bygone era. The abundance of details in this unique series debut are a sheer delight. So many interesting topics are described in myopic detail that keep you enthralled with the story - philetology, chemistry, the art of conjuring, forensic science and investigations, and literature. The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie is a brilliant effort that shines bright and true. Highly recommend.
Date published: 2010-06-11
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great! I loved escaping into the world of Flavia de Luce. I found the book funny, sweet and original. Maybe I'll let my 14 year old read it.
Date published: 2010-04-25
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Wonderful Really enjoyed the setting and the writing. Loved the character, the way the story is told reminds me a bit of a Sherlock Holmes type of story. Looking forward to more of Flavia's adventures.
Date published: 2009-11-27
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Phenomenal Listening Experience 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.
Date published: 2009-10-06
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Excellent read, can't wait for more of Alan Bradley!!!! This is an English mystery with Flavia de Luce as the investigator. It is the summer of 1950 and Flavia is eleven years old, an aspiring chemist with a passion for poison. A series of mysteries attract Flavia’s attention: a dead bird with a postage stamp stuck on its beak found on the doormat, a mysterious late-night visitor argues with her father who is Colonel de Luce, behind closed doors, and in the early morning Flavia watches a red-headed stranger, lying in the cucumber patch, take his dying breath. The summer begins for Flavia at Buckshaw with a murder. Flavia is sure of one thing, her father is innocent. This is the first novel by the author Alan Bradley which is a very delightful read. I can’t wait to see what Alan Bradley has to offer us in the future in his books.
Date published: 2009-09-19
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Loved the book I had a problem with the illustration on the front cover. Snipes have absolutely straight bills. Perhaps a field guide for birds of Norway should have been consulted or perhaps this birder should cut the illustrator some slack.
Date published: 2009-07-28
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Delightful! When I found out that this book was only the first in a series I was thrilled. What a great new discovery! Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie is a quirky, charming story of a young girl who sets out to discover the truth behind the murder of a man found dying in the cucumber patch of her massive house’s garden. Flavia de Luce lives with her father and two sisters in the oversized Buckshaw – a house handed down from generation to generation in Flavia’s mother’s family. It comes complete with a science laboratory where Flavia can perfect her concoctions and try them out on her older sister, Ophelia. Despite her age (eleven), Flavia is smart, resilient and quick-witted. She’s one of the most lovable protagonists I’ve met in a long time. As Flavia investigates the circumstances around the body in the garden, she interacts with all manner of beings who don’t see things quite as straight-fowardly as she would have them and thus the humour shines in this enchanting novel. From dealing with her annoying sisters, to out-witting the local police, Flavia navigates her way through the maze of the mystery with good humour and aplomb. Though, I would say there were bits here and there that needed belief-stretching, that doesn’t detract from the story at all. I would recommend this novel to anyone who loves a cozy mystery from pre-teens to adults.
Date published: 2009-06-11
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Delightful!! Reason for Reading: At first, the title grabbed me. Then I read the publisher's summary and was very excited to read this mystery. Comments: Flavia is an 11-year-old girl who lives in a run-down ancestral home in a tiny village in England with her Father, two sisters and a few servants. Flavia isn't your ordinary 11yo, she has taken over an ancient chemistry studio in the house from a former ancestor and her whole world revolves around chemistry. Her speciality? Poisons. Early one morning Flavia stumbles upon a dead man lying in the cucumber patch and that is just the beginning of a series of events that Flvaia becomes involved in as she finds herself matching wits with the local Inspector who has her father under suspicion of the murder. What an incredibly, deliciously, devilish mystery. This is like nothing I've read before. A pure joy to read. The characters were all entirely eccentric from the main protagonist down to the secondary and minor characters. The mystery is both what I would call a cozy and a Gothic mystery. It is a cozy in the sense that it is very Agatha Christie in presentation, lots of mental deduction going on and no gory details, plenty of suspects to choose from and each a nuisance in their own way. On the otherhand Bradley presents a very Gothic feel to his mystery with the old run down buildings and other old English settings, such as a school bell tower, Flavia's macabre interest in poison and the equally devilishly (though not life-threatening) pranks that she and her sisters play on each other. Characters appear suddenly at windows and loom out of the fog. It really is just splendidly atmospheric writing but completely cozy for those who like their mysteries clean and intelligent rather than soaked in blood. I only had one small problem and I can't really say for sure whether it was the author or just myself. The novel's narrator is an 11-year-old girl and I don't think it was completely maintained throughout. I'm sure it is difficult to write an adult novel in a child's voice and it is not something that one reads everyday. At times I often forgot it was a child telling the story until a word or phrase would bring it back to my mind; I also often forgot the narrator was a girl until she mentioned wearing a dress or such. This was something that irked me a little bit, but otherwise I am full of recommendations for this book. I think a wide variety of mystery fans are going to enjoy this book and there are already two further volumes in the series planned for future release! I think Flavia de Luce may just become a future British TV series as she is just that compelling; I'd love to see her come to life on the screen and can't wait to read her next mystery!
Date published: 2009-05-20
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Mmmmm pie My boss/manager has been mentioning this book to me (repeatedly) since it was released in February. So, when she went on vacation, I decided to surprise her by reading it. Always listen to your boss; especially when she works in a book store. Flavia is one of the most interesting, complex, real characters I have met in a long time. She is the driving force behind this book, and she is the reason for reading it (mystery was easy to solve, but kept me curious). Flavia in an execptional 11 year old, with a mind for chemistry, and a dead body in her back yard. When the police inspector treats her like a child, Flavia sees it as a challenge and decides to solve the murder herself. Excellent read.
Date published: 2009-05-13
Rated 5 out of 5 by from What a masterpiece! The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie is set in the summer of 1950, following Flavia de Luce as she attempts to solve the mystery of the man who was found dead in her family's cucumber patch in the early hours of the morning. Upon the discovery of the dead body body, Flavia thinks: “I wish I could say I was afraid, but I wasn’t. Quite the contrary. This was by far the most interesting thing that had ever happened to me in my entire life." With her determination and resourcefulness, Flavia investigates the murder which seems to be mysteriously linked to the presence of a dead bird found with a stamp on its beak on her front doorstep earlier that day. Although Flavia is only eleven years old, she is a very precocious girl who can often be found in her chemistry working on a new experiment. With her powers of deduction she begins narrowing down the suspects and learns more than even she thought possible. I first heard about "The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie" while reading a review in my local newspaper , The Montreal Gazette, which got me very interested. I also recently read a great article about Mr. Bradley from The National Post which is worth checking out! At first it may seem strange to hear Mr. Bradley and others speaking about Flavia de Luce as if she were a real person, but after reading this book it's hard not to feel personally connected to her. It's all too easy to forget that the story was not written by this eleven-year old prodigy herself! Her vivacious and inquisitive personality make her one of the most endearing and likeable characters I've read about in a long time. From the way she concocts her potions in the chemistry lab to her Sherlock Holmes-like detective skills, she captured my attention but more importantly my admiration and respect. Although an eleven-year old detective may seem unlikely, you just have to read the book to understand how all of the elements of the story work together so beautifully. The secondary characters are also eccentric and really great in their supporting roles, adding some interesting flavor to The Sweetnes at the Bottom of the Pie! In addition to the marvelous cast of characters, the storyline itself is brilliantly crafted. There are a number of unexpected plot twists and everything so wonderfully in the end. I wish I could say more but I don't want to spoil anything because this is a story best left to the narrative skills of one Ms. Flavia. Thankfully, this book is the first installment in a Flavia de Luce trilogy so there is much to look forward to from Mr. Bradley in the future! http://bookopolis.blogspot.com
Date published: 2009-03-30
Rated 5 out of 5 by from One of the most engaging characters I've ever met in a book.... Oh I loved, loved, loved this book! The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie introduces us to eleven year old Flavia DeLuce. She lives with her father and two sisters in an old mansion in 1950's England. The house is full of nooks and crannies - and a old chemistry lab. Flavia practices making poisons there. (yes poisons!) She and her older sisters are constantly thinking of ways to torment each other. Their eccentric father keeps himself occupied with his philatelic obsession.We are introduced to Flavia in the first paragraph of the novel.... "It was as black in the closet as old blood. They had shoved me in and locked the door. I breathed heavily through my nose, fighting desperately to remain calm. I tried counting to ten on every intake of breath, and to eight as I released each one slowly into the darkness. Luckily for me, they had pulled the gag so tightly into my open mouth that my nostrils were left unobstructed, and I was able to draw in one slow lungful after another of the stale, musty air." Flavia escapes unharmed, but plans to pay her sisters back. However, the appearance of a dead bird with a postage stamp speared through it's beak and her father's horrified reaction distract her. But it is the dead body found in the cucumber patch that really enthralls her. When her father is arrested for the murder, Flavia sets out to solve the crime on her own. Flavia is one of the most endearing, captivating, curious, beguiling, precocious characters I've ever discovered in the pages of a book. The crime is interesting, but it is Flavia's personality that is the real draw for me. "Whenever I'm out of doors and find myself wanting to have a first-rate think, I fling myself down on my back, throw my arms and legs out so that I look like an asterisk, and gaze at the sky. For the first little while, I'm usually entertained by my 'floaters, those wormy little strings of protein that swim to and fro across one's field of vision like dark little galaxies. When I'm not in a hurry, I stand on my head to stir them, up, and then lie back to watch the show, as if it were an animated cinema film." Although the idea of an eleven year old for a protagonist seems unusual for an adult detective novel, it just somehow works. Harriet the Spy for grown ups. (I really wanted to be Harriet when I was younger!) This is the first in a series that Bradley has planned - The Buckshaw Chronicles. I will be on the edge of my seat waiting for the second!
Date published: 2009-02-04

– More About This Product –

The Sweetness At The Bottom Of The Pie

by Alan Bradley

Format: Trade Paperback

Dimensions: 400 pages, 8 × 5.2 × 1.05 in

Published: November 10, 2009

Publisher: Doubleday Canada

Language: English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10: 0385665830

ISBN - 13: 9780385665834

Read from the Book

ONE It was as black in the closet as old blood. They had shoved me in and locked the door. I breathed heavily through my nose, fighting desperately to remain calm. I tried counting to ten on every intake of breath, and to eight as I released each one slowly into the darkness. Luckily for me, they had pulled the gag so tightly into my open mouth that my nostrils were left unobstructed, and I was able to draw in one slow lungful after another of the stale, musty air. I tried hooking my fingernails under the silk scarf that bound my hands behind me but, since I always bit them to the quick, there was nothing to catch. Jolly good luck then that I’d remembered to put my fingertips together, using them as ten firm little bases to press my palms apart as they had pulled the knots tight. Now I rotated my wrists, squeezing them together until I felt a bit of slack, using my thumbs to work the silk down until the knots were between my palms — then between my fingers. If they had been bright enough to think of tying my thumbs together, I should never have escaped. What utter morons they were. With my hands free at last, I made short work of the gag. Now for the door. But first, to be sure they were not lying in wait for me, I squatted and peered out through the keyhole at the attic. Thank heavens they had taken the key away with them. There was no one in sight: save for its perpetual tangle of shadows, junk and sad bric-a-brac, the long attic was empty. The coast was clear.
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From the Publisher

Winner of the 2007 Crime Writers’ Association Debut Dagger

A delightfully dark English mystery, featuring precocious young sleuth Flavia de Luce and her eccentric family.

The summer of 1950 hasn’t offered up anything out of the ordinary for eleven-year-old Flavia de Luce: bicycle explorations around the village, keeping tabs on her neighbours, relentless battles with her older sisters, Ophelia and Daphne, and brewing up poisonous concoctions while plotting revenge in their home’s abandoned Victorian chemistry lab, which Flavia has claimed for her own.

But then a series of mysterious events gets Flavia’s attention: A dead bird is found on the doormat, a postage stamp bizarrely pinned to its beak. A mysterious late-night visitor argues with her aloof father, Colonel de Luce, behind closed doors. And in the early morning Flavia finds a red-headed stranger lying in the cucumber patch and watches him take his dying breath. For Flavia, the summer begins in earnest when murder comes to Buckshaw: “I wish I could say I was afraid, but I wasn’t. Quite the contrary. This was by far the most interesting thing that had ever happened to me in my entire life.”

Did the stranger die of poisoning? There was a piece missing from Mrs. Mullet’s custard pie, and none of the de Luces would have dared to eat the awful thing. Or could he have been killed by the family’s loyal handyman, Dogger… or by the Colonel himself! At that moment, Flavia commits herself to solving the crime — even if it means keeping information from the village police, in order to protect her family. But then her father confesses to the crime, for the same reason, and it’s up to Flavia to free him of suspicion. Only she has the ingenuity to follow the clues that reveal the victim’s identity, and a conspiracy that reaches back into the de Luces’ murky past.

A thoroughly entertaining romp of a novel, The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie is inventive and quick-witted, with tongue-in-cheek humour that transcends the macabre seriousness of its subject.


From the Hardcover edition.

From the Jacket

"Sure in its story, pace and voice, The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie deliciously mixes all the ingredients of great storytelling.The kind of novel you can pass on to any reader knowing their pleasure is assured."
— Andrew Pyper, author of The Killing Circle

"A wickedly clever story, a dead true and original voice, and an English country house in the summer: Alexander McCall Smith meets Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Please, please, Mr. Bradley, tell me we'll be seeing Flavia again soon?"
— Laurie R. King, New York Times bestselling author of The Game

“One of the hottest reads of 2009.”
— The Times (U.K.)

“Alan Bradley brews a bubbly beaker of fun in his devilishly clever, wickedly amusing debut mystery, launching an eleven-year-old heroine with a passion for chemistry — and revenge! What a delightful, original book!”
— Carolyn Hart, Anthony and Agatha award-winning author of Death Walked In

“Alan Bradley’s marvelous book, The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie, is a fantastic read, a winner. Flavia walks right off the page and follows me through my day. I can hardly wait for the next book. Bravo.”
— Louise Penny, acclaimed author of Still Life


Praise from the CWA Dagger Award judges:

“The most original of the bunch, I think, with a deliciously deceptive opening which really sets the tone of macabre fun. Flavia is a wonderful creation, along with the rest of her eccentric family, and makes for a highly engaging sleuth. Think the Mitfords, as imagined by Dorothy L Sayers. The plot, with its intriguing philatelic elements, is nicely ingenious and delivers a very good end, with a fun twist. Would make very good Sunday night telly, I think.”

“I adored this! Our heroine is refreshingly youthful, funny and sharp and the author creates such a strong sense of time and place. Flavia’s eccentric family are delightful and I love seeing them interact within their crazy home. There are also interesting depths to the plot — the stamp collecting, the chemistry experiments, and the acknowledgement of past events and how they have affected these characters. The author’s tone is very tongue-in-cheek and offers something quite different in this genre, and the story is cleverly structured and beautifully written. This doesn’t read like a first novel. Assuming the mystery itself will be as enticing and smoothly handled as the opening, I can see Flavia solving crimes into adulthood. Great title too!”

“Really adored the voice of the characters in this — especially Flavia, the spirited main protagonist — and the sense of place is beautifully described, particularly when telling the history of the house and its inhabitants. The family unit, comprising of the taciturn, introspective Colonel and his three daughters is well written, humorous and the sibling relationships very realistic. The author should be praised for creating a work that has nostalgic interest as well as a murder mystery, in places this almost reads like an Enid Blyton novel for adults!”


From the Hardcover edition.

About the Author

Alan Bradley was born in Toronto and grew up in Cobourg, Ontario. After receiving an education in electronic engineering, Alan worked at numerous radio and television stations in Ontario, and at Ryerson Polytechnical Institute (now Ryerson University) in Toronto, before becoming Director of Television Engineering in the media centre at the University of Saskatchewan, where he remained for twenty-five years before taking early retirement to write in 1994. Soon thereafter, Bradley became the first President of the Saskatoon Writers, and a founding member of the Saskatchewan Writers Guild. His children’s stories were published in The Canadian Children’s Annual and his short story “Meet Miss Mullen” was the first recipient of the Saskatchewan Writers Guild Award for Children’s Literature. For a number of years, Bradley taught scriptwriting and television production courses at the University of Saskatchewan. His fiction has been published in literary journals and he has given many public readings in schools and galleries. His short stories have been broadcast by CBC Radio, and his lifestyle and humour pieces have appeared in The Globe and Mail and The National Post . Alan Bradley was also a founding member of The Casebook of Saskatoon, a society devoted to the study of Sherlock Holmes and Sherlockian writings. There, he met the late Dr. William A.S. Sarjeant, with whom he collaborated on the classic book Ms. Holmes of Baker Street (1989). This work pu
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Editorial Reviews

"Sure in its story, pace and voice, The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie deliciously mixes all the ingredients of great storytelling.The kind of novel you can pass on to any reader knowing their pleasure is assured." — Andrew Pyper, author of The Killing Circle "A wickedly clever story, a dead true and original voice, and an English country house in the summer: Alexander McCall Smith meets Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Please, please, Mr. Bradley, tell me we''ll be seeing Flavia again soon?" — Laurie R. King, New York Times bestselling author of The Game “One of the hottest reads of 2009.” — The Times (U.K.) “Alan Bradley brews a bubbly beaker of fun in his devilishly clever, wickedly amusing debut mystery, launching an eleven-year-old heroine with a passion for chemistry — and revenge! What a delightful, original book!” — Carolyn Hart, Anthony and Agatha award-winning author of Death Walked In “Alan Bradley’s marvelous book, The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie , is a fantastic read, a winner. Flavia walks right off the page and follows me through my day. I can hardly wait for the next book. Bravo.” — Louise Penny, acclaimed author of Still Life Praise from the CWA Dagger Award judges: “The most original of the bunch, I think, with a deliciously deceptive opening which really sets the tone of macabre fun. Flavia is a wonderful creation, along with the rest of her eccent
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Bookclub Guide

1. With her high level of knowledge, her erudition and her self-reliance, Flavia hardly seems your typical eleven-year-old girl. Or does she? Discuss Flavia and her personality, and how her character drives this novel. Can you think of other books that have used a similar protagonist?

2. The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie falls within the tradition of English country house mysteries, but with the devilishly intelligent Flavia racing around Bishop’s Lacey on her bike instead of the expected older woman ferreting out the truth by chatting with her fellow villagers. Discuss how Bradley uses the traditions of the genre, and how he plays with them too.

3. What is your favourite scene from The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie?

4. With her excessive interest in poisons and revenge, it’s no surprise that Flavia is fascinated, not scared, as she watches the stranger die in her garden. In your view, is her dark matter-of-factness more refreshing or disturbing?

5. Flavia reminds us often about Harriet, the mother she never knew, and has many keepsakes that help her imagine what she was like. Do you think the real Harriet would have fit into Flavia’s mould?

6. Flavia’s distance from her father, the Colonel, is obvious, yet she loves him all the same. Does their relationship change over the course of the novel in a lasting way? Would Flavia want it to?

7. Through Flavia’s eyes what sort of a picture does Alan Bradley paint of the British aristocracy? Think as well about how appearances aren’t always reality, as with the borderline bankruptcy of Flavia’s father and Dr. Kissing.

8. Discuss the meaning (or meanings) of the title The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie.

9. What twists in the plot surprised you the most?

10. Buckshaw, the estate, is almost a character in its own right here, with its overlarge wings, hidden laboratory, and pinched front gates. Talk about how Bradley brings the setting to life in this novel — not only Buckshaw itself, but Bishop’s Lacey and the surrounding area.

11. What does Flavia care about most in life? How do the people around her compare to her chemistry lab and books?

12. Like any scientist. Flavia expects her world to obey certain rules, and seems to be thrown off kilter when surprises occur. How much does she rely on the predictability of those around her, like her father and her sisters, in order to pursue her own interests (like solving the murder)? Is Flavia truly surprised when Feely and Dogger come to her rescue?

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