Thursday, October 10, 2013

Review - Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie

Title: The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie
Author: Alan Bradley
Publisher: Delacorte Press (April 28th 2009)
Format: Hardcover; Pgs 374
Genre: Historical Mystery
Source: Library
Series: Flavia de Luce #1

I did not mesh well with this book. Was Flavia de Luce an annoying 11-year-old or was she really a 35-year-old college chemistry professor in disguise? Did this book take place in 1950 or 1850? Are adults really dumber than a child? This book just annoyed me from beginning to end.

Flavia is the youngest of three girls born into assumed wealth in an English village named Bishop’s Lacey. Having too much time on her hands, since it appears that neither she nor her sisters attend school, she has developed quite an impressive knowledge of chemistry with a specialty in poisons.

When their housekeeper / cook finds a dead jacksnipe (I think this is a blackbird) with a stamp impaled on its bill on the back steps, Flavia is fascinated. Later when she hears her father arguing with a red haired stranger that later turns up dead in their cucumber patch, Flavia breaks out her imagination and chemistry knowledge to solve the two crimes.

The reader is going to have to take a deep breath when they open this book. Stamp collectors, illusionists, memory loss, hallucinations, post traumatic stress disorder, boarding school, headmaster, apparent suicide, political intrigue, Ulster Avenger stamps, theft, blackmail, and murder. As you can see there is a great deal going on in this book.

What distracted me the most was that I kept question the time period. The characters used such Victorian language that I had to keep reminding my self of the year. For instance, in 1950 did they use the term “looking glass” or did they say mirror? Just as important to me, even if a child had their own chemistry lab complete with Bunsen burners, would they know all that Flavia appeared to know?

Definitely, not the right series for me. I am glad that I finally read the first in the series so I can now say without a doubt, the next time someone tells me that I should checkout this series, “no, thank you”.

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