Flavia De Luce 01 - The Sweetness At The Bottom Of The Pie Rothdas book review RSS
4.0 Stars

A mystery novel set in rural, post war Britain: there is an unsettling stranger, a late night argument, a dead body in the morning. It's now up to 12 year old Flavia De Luce to conduct a shadow investigation in order to clear the family name or at least pin the murder on someone else. To do so, she will need to use every skill at her disposal; lying, deceiving, breaking, entering, sneaking, stealing, rifling, lock picking, threats, blackmail, deducting, and some light poisoning. She also has to contend with her older sisters, an inattentive father, bicycle impoundment, and the general melancholy and ruin of Britain after WWII.

In general I'm not a fan of mystery novels, but I thought this one was decently done. Two things make it stand out. One is that the author has an unusually good hand at descriptive turns of phrase and mixing historical, artistic, and literary bits into the work. The other is that the main character, Flavia De Luce, is an unusually good choice. She is what Seanan McGuire's mad scientist character should have been, someone who can look at a stained glass window and name the chemical compound used for each pane of glass, someone with a top 40's list of favorite poisons, someone who knows the modern and ancient names and descriptions of a thousand different chemical compounds. She's a delightfully selfish and self centered and gifted investigator, and a great foundation for the story. Her whole family is in fact good, each of them being monomaniacal in their own way, and sort of jointly but separately inhabiting the ruins of the family estate.