Thursday, July 08, 2010

Book Review: The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie by Alan Bradley

Book Title: The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie
Author: Alan Bradley
Genre: Fiction - Mystery
ISBN: 978-0-385-34230-8
Pages: 370 
Source: Local Library

A quick look at the story:

The story is set in the summer of 1950 in a scenic English countryside, where eleven year old Flavia de Luce, the heroine of the story, lives in an old Mansion called Buckshaw along with her dad and two older sisters. Flavia is a smart and precocious child with a passion for chemistry & a penchant for poisons!!! One evening, a dead bird is found on the doorstep of their mansion with a postage stamp pinned to its beak and then early next morning Flavia stumbles on a man lying in their garden, taking his last breath ... this sets the scene for the rest of the story wherein Flavia takes it upon herself to solve the case and to find the murderer much ahead of the policeman investigating the case...
My Thoughts:

I must admit that there were two things which I found attractive the moment I set my eyes on this book on a fellow blogger's blog,
  • one was the pleasant green color of the book with a picture of a postage stamp pinned on a dead bird's beak.... and the other, 
  • was the title of this book... I felt it was a very creative title for a book especially a mystery one!!
Now coming to the actual story... no doubt that Alan Bradley is a talented writer: the story is a gripping, fast-paced one and it revolves totally around the central character - Flavia. Now here's where I have conflicting emotions... I surely do like the smart, witty and intelligent Flavia who is bursting with enthusiasm and has a thirst-for-adventure but at the same time I feel that it's a very thine line that separates a smart kid from an over-smart one and Flavia to me was leaning more to the over-smart side. I mean, she is just a 11 year old kid and I somehow can't relate to her concocting complicated solutions and toxins in a lab all by herself... infact the part of the story where I initially felt she was acting way over  her age was right in the beginning of the story..... the police come over to the mansion to investigate the crime scene and when the inspector asks her to get her dad, Flavia replies that her dad need not be disturbed from his sleep and that she can lead the police to the crime scene herself... Now, which 11 year old child would act so unperturbed and adult-like at a murder scene ... if I was in her place I would have right away fetched my dad!!! Then again, I do realize that it's just a fictitious story and character... and in all fairness to the author, his descriptions about Flavia seem to indicate that aside from her passion for chemistry, she is just like any other kid her age, seizing every opportunity to pull a fast one on her two teenaged elder sisters... :)

In a nutshell, apart from a few quirks that I had with the heroine's characterization, the plot is a good one and would surely keep the readers interested especially the way it's unravelled... I surely do plan on reading the next book in this series, The Weed That Strings the Hangman's Bag.

I am sure I fall into that minority of people who did not like Flavia de Luce's character fully.... the majority of the people in the blogosphere love her and here are couple of wonderful reviews on this book by fellow book bloggers:

My take on this book: 

A good plot with a slightly precocious and 'over-smart' lead character...  recommended for both first-time mystery readers as well as regulars.



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