I don’t know that anyone has invented a more delightful heroine than Flavia de Luce, the eleven-year-old sleuth in Alan Bradley’s funny, charming series. I haven’t read The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie in a few years, but for series books I am trying to start with the first one, so I’ll do the best I can.
It is 1950’s Britain, and Flavia is an eccentric in a family full of eccentrics. She spends her time cooking up dangerous chemicals in the laboratory she inherited from a great uncle or riding around on her bicycle, Gladys, looking for trouble. Her father is a reclusive widower who stays locked up in the library with his stamp collection and worries about how to support their ramshackle estate. She engages in all-out warfare with her two older sisters, which includes putting poison ivy extract in Ophelia’s lipstick. Her only ally is the Dogger the gardener, her father’s batman from WW II who suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder.
First, Mrs. Mullet the housekeeper finds a dead bird on the porch with a valuable stamp in its beak. Then a mysterious stranger calls upon her father, and they have an argument. Later Flavia finds the stranger dying in the cucumber patch. When her father is arrested for murder, Flavia decides to investigate. She finds out her father may have been involved in the suicide of a former schoolmaster and the theft of a valuable stamp. As Flavia cycles around the village of Bishop’s Lacey looking for clues and interviewing suspects, she may be putting herself in danger.
If you’re looking for a light mystery with plenty of twists and turns that will make you laugh out loud, look no further than any book featuring Flavia de Luce.