We had no power so it seemed a good time to read a light mystery for my “mystery” category for our Reading Challenge. I picked a good one, right out of my library sale stash from a couple years ago, when it had come recommended.
The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie is the first in a series about Flavia de Luce as a detective. In this book, Flavia is a precocious eleven year old that is astute, curious, tenacious, and irrepressible. She takes thoughtful initiative, traveling only as far as her bike can take her. I enjoyed her as a character immensely.
The writing is at once breezy and simple, while having embellishments that make it fun. There is some unexpectedly excellent vocabulary, which a few times stopped me in my tracks. Flavia’s passion for chemistry, and her father’s for stamps, spice up the story as well. Here are some example bits:
- “Their two yellow brick annexes, pustulantly Victorian, folded back like the pinioned wings of a boneyard angle which, to my eyes, gave the tall windows and shutters of Buckshaw’s Georgian front the prim and surprised look of an old maid whose bun was too tight.”
- “Dogger began to twitch like an experimental frog whose spinal cord has been hooked up to a galvanic battery.”
- “Charles Darwin had once pointed out that the fiercest competition for survival came from one’s own tribe, and as the fifth of six children– and with three older sisters– be was obviously in a position to know what he was talking about. To me it seemed a matter of elementary chemistry. I knew that a substance tends to be dissolved by solvents that are chemically similar to it. There was no rational explanation for this; it was simply the way of nature.”
Finding a fun, non-gory, easy-going– while still intelligent– mystery that is not banal, is not often easy. This one hits that mark perfectly. I give it a quite contented four stars. You might enjoy this one too, and if you figure out the meaning of the title, let me know.