The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie features a precocious 11 year old named Flavia DeLuce who possesses a love of chemistry, a passionate obsession with poisons, a bicycle named Gladys, and a talent for deductive reasoning. (Could our Flavia somehow be the adolescent female version of Sherlock Holmes?) For all her intelligence Falvia also demonstrates her childish "get even" mentality as illustrated by the revenge she wreaks on he older sisters.
I will admit that it took a couple of chapters for me to warm up to the unusual group of folks living at the decrepit country mansion called Buckshaw. The family dynamic is unusual to say the least, and the vocabulary and knowledge pouring forth from Flavia as she narrates the story takes a little getting used to. Perhaps I was a bit jealous and somewhat intimidated by all the scientific knowledge this little "smart-aleck" had to impart, or could it have been that I found myself imagining what it would be like to live in a household inhabited by Flavia and the dysfunctional cast of characters that surrounded her. If I still smoked, that thought alone would have found me reaching for a "gasper".
Author, Alan Bradley has managed to give his readers an unconventional protagonist, a creative, somewhat amusing and intriguing story, as well as multiple mysteries to solve. Written for the adult reader, Flavia is definitely more Nero Wolfe than Nancy Drew. Just abandon logic and reality, hop aboard Gladys and take a bumpy ride back to 1950's England with Flavia DeLuce, girl sleuth. 31/2 stars