We can label 2016 as “the year Day finally became a mystery fan.” So I dedicate today to the mystery writers who won my heart: Anthony Oliver (The Pew Group), Catherine Aird (Henrietta Who?), and now Alan Bradley with The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie, a mystery novel that recalls the golden age of this genre, taking place in that sweet place and time: a small British village in the early 1950’s.
Bradley won me over immediately with his uniquely brilliant heroine, 11 year-old Flavia de Luce. Watching a mystery unfold through the eyes of a child (albeit, a highly mature, insightful, and sharp-as-a-whip child) as opposed to a middle-aged inspector (as is frequently the case) affords the opportunity to approach The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie as a joyous adventure.
Flavia’s humor and somewhat reckless abandon, mixed with an A plus and clever plot makes The Sweetness… hard to put down. On a more complex level, the familial relationships explored both between Flavia and her torturous sisters, and Flavia and her emotionally distant father make this novel stimulating beneath the surface of the mystery; a rarity in this genre.
The only issue I had with The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie, which will make me sound like a broken record, is every so often Bradley was a smidge more descriptive than I thought necessary. This occasionally decreased the flow of the novel, but not enough to take away major points.
I look forward to going on more adventures with Flavia in the future.
Rating: 4 Penny Blacks