The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie is the first book in Alan Bradley’s Flavia de Luce series of mystery novels. I actually listened to this book awhile ago, but I fell behind with my reviews and did not have the opportunity to write a review until now.
Flavia de Luce is a precocious young girl who lives in a crumbling mansion with her father and sisters. Her two passions are chemistry and tormenting her sisters. One day, Flavia finds a dead bird with a rare stamp pinned on its beak. Not too long after that, she finds a dying man in the garden. Flavia knows that she can solve the case faster than the police, and she sets off on her trusty bike to delve into long-buried schoolboy secrets and the intense world of stamp collecting.
Flavia serves as both protagonist and narrator. She is preternaturally bright, and she is prone to peppering her narrative with witty asides. There is something in her charming nature that makes people trust her, and this proves to be very useful in gathering information. The case itself is a fascinating one, and although I had my suspicions, I found myself surprised by the big reveal.
I would absolutely recommend The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie. If possible, I would recommend seeking out the Audible/audiobook versions of this book. Narrator Jayne Entwistle brings Flavia to life with a barely-contained mischievous glee. This series is not intended for children per se, but I think that it might appeal to advanced middle grade readers as well as young adult readers who are interested in discovering new mystery series. I have listened to the first three books in this series, and I am looking forward to more Flavia in the near future.