The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie by Alan C. Bradley is a debut mystery set in England, written by a Canadian, and published by an American publisher. It features an intelligent, eleven-year-old narrator who is an amateur chemist with a particular passion for poisons. Early one morning in 1950 she sees a man die in the cucumber patch of her home and sets out to solve the mystery of who he is and why he was killed.
Various family members confess to the crime in an effort to protect Flavia. She confesses to protect others as well. An unflappable police inspector functions as the perfect foil to Flavia. Stamp collecting and an especially valuable stamp belonging to King George are key plot elements. Nostalgia for village England and childhood permeate the novel.
Alan C. Bradley is the seventy year old first time author of The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie. He has already published a sequel – The Weed That Strings the Hangman’s Bag – and the next outing for Flavia titled A Red Herring Without Mustard – will be published in February, 2011. In interviews Bradley states he is planning a series of five novels featuring his young prodigy.
Marie King teaches 5th through 8th grade literature at Mizzentop Day School. A resident of Pawling for twelve years, she has also led book groups for adults, children, and parents and children at the Pawling Library.