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The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie (Flavia de Luce #1)

3.80  ·  Rating Details  ·  96,899 Ratings  ·  12,134 Reviews
Winner of the 2007 Crime Writers’ Association Debut Dagger

A delightfully dark English mystery, featuring precocious young sleuth Flavia de Luce and her eccentric family.

The summer of 1950 hasn’t offered up anything out of the ordinary for eleven-year-old Flavia de Luce: bicycle explorations around the village, keeping tabs on her neighbours, relentless battles with her old
Hardcover, 292 pages
Published February 10th 2009 by Doubleday Canada (first published 2009)
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Andrea Johnson I had assumed this book was young adult, but as I read, kept thinking that the vocabulary was awfully sophisticated for YA, and there were a lot of…moreI had assumed this book was young adult, but as I read, kept thinking that the vocabulary was awfully sophisticated for YA, and there were a lot of cultural and historical references that YA readers might not get. About halfway through the book, I realized that my library had categorized it as "Adult Mystery," which explained a lot! I don't think there was anything inappropriate for younger readers, but depending on the reader, they might just not enjoy it as much, because of what they'd miss.(less)
Orinoco Womble (tidy bag and all) Go to the review page of this or any other book. On the Right side of the screen, you will see "About Alan Bradley" or whoever. Click on that, and it…moreGo to the review page of this or any other book. On the Right side of the screen, you will see "About Alan Bradley" or whoever. Click on that, and it will take you to any questions they have answered. Also on the questions readers have asked (like this one) on the Right you will see "About Goodreads Q and A" and a link that says "See Featured Authors Answering Questions" "Learn More". I'm looking at them right now as I type the answer to this question.(less)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Dec 02, 2009 Felicia rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: faves, mystery
This book probably deserves 4 stars, but to me, as far as how much I enjoyed it, 5 stars baby!

Having just read Steig Larssen's "Girl with the Dragon Tattoo" I hadn't expected to stumble on a heroine as quickly that I'd love as much. But Flavia fits the bill!

This is a historical mystery, set in England in the late 40's/ (51 maybe?) Anyway, Flavia is 11 going on 40. She's a genius, perhaps a mad one, who knows. She is drawn into a wonderful mystery that I don't want to spoil, but her tenacity and
Aug 16, 2010 Hannah rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Hannah by: Tatiana G.
Shelves: mysteries, 2010-reads
I really wanted to like this more then I ended up doing. The story started off slowly, then picked up steam with a murder to solve and some interesting backstory on stamps. What hindered my enjoyment of the book, the story and the murder mystery was, unfortunately, the main character and detective: Flavia duLuce.

To say that young Flavia is precocious is an understatement. She has to be one of the most intelligent, well spoken, criminal minds since Sherlock Holmes. Problem is, she's only 11 years
Jun 15, 2010 Tatiana rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: fans of non-violent mysteries
Flavia de Luce is an 11-year old amateur sleuth, a future chemist and poison enthusiast. She lives with her widowed father and two older sisters at Buckshaw - a decaying English country-side mansion. Flavia's days are occupied with chemical experiments and schemes of spiking her evil older sister Ophelia's lipstick with poison ivy. That is until one fateful day a dead bird with a postage stamp stuck to its beak is found on the doorstep of Buckshaw. Even more, soon after Flavia finds a dead man i ...more
A historical mystery, set in England, narrated by a precocious 11-year-old girl. I feel like I should have loved this, but mostly it just bored me. Flavia’s narration, designed to show off how brilliant she is, lacked the necessary wit and charm, and her investigation into a couple of murders and some missing stamps was full of weird leaps of logic and sideways-step conclusions. I never felt involved or like any part of the story was real or mattered.
Dan Schwent
May 28, 2015 Dan Schwent rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2015
When young Flavia de Luce, aspiring chemist, finds a body in the cucumber patch outside her father's house, she finds herself caught up in a web of deceit and murder...

I'm not really sure how my love of detective fiction led me to this tale of an eleven year old girl in 1950s England solving a mystery involving stamps but I'm glad it did.

Flavia de Luce is a precocious English girl with a passion for chemistry in general and poisons in particular. She lives in an English country house with her fa
May 06, 2014 David rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I absolutely loved Sweetness. The narrator-protagonist is one of the cleverest, liveliest, most entertaining characters I have had the pleasure to meet in many a year. I laughed aloud many times and couldn't wait to get back to reading this gem. Flavia is the 11-year-old daughter of a widower in England in the 50s. She loves science and mystery, despises her haughty clueless sisters, and is plotting to poison them and get away with it. When mysterious crimes happen at the family home, she thrust ...more
Oct 08, 2009 Kathryn rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery
"There are times, Miss de Luce... when you deserve a brass medal. And there are other times when you deserve to be sent to your room with bread and water." -- Inspector Hewitt to Flavia de Luce: budding sleuth, brilliant chemist, and diabolical eleven-year-old.

After very high hopes, I almost gave up on "The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie" after about seven chapters, finding little literary sweetness to induce in me a hunger to devour the remaining pages. Yet, the overwhelmingly positive revi
A mystery about a precocious child, whom I would like to like, but suspect that she would not be enjoyable to be around. Flavia, when not tormenting her eldest sister, attempts to solve a murder in 1950 in Great Britain. I wanted to like this book, as much as the title appealed to me, but only finished out of a sense of duty, having bought the book based on the reviews rather than borrowing it. A good lesson, to remind me of the perils of random purchasing.

My quibbles, if anyone is so interested
Jun 17, 2009 Laurie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Ignore the title, please, and go for the essence. Flavia de Luce is an eleven year-old Sherlock Holmes with a predilection for the dark side of rural crime and a hobby of poisons. This will be the first in what promises to be an utterly original and delicious series. Adult preoccupations and values may confront Flavia, but they do not greatly impress her; by the story's end, the reader can only agree.
Feb 09, 2010 Sparrow rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Sparrow by: tracey coleman and Linda Harrison
Shelves: reviewed
This book is CSI to The Series of Unfortunate Events' McGyver. In my scale, a three-star rating is neutral, and that's a pretty accurate evaluation of how I feel about this story. At the risk of sounding disapproving, I'm going to make a couple of notes about why I didn't love the book. They're not things I really disliked about the book, though, just to be clear. I'm also really terrible about reading mystery stories, so, I’m disqualifying myself from evaluation. These are my general reactions, ...more
Aug 01, 2011 Nadia rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Finally! I'm done! The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie has been read and crossed off of my TBR list. And now I must ask you not to hate me, because truthfully, though I did enjoy aspects of the book, I did not love it. I found it to be rather predictable, long-winded and slightly dull at times. There were moments when I had to put the book down or just rush ahead in order to avoid a passage that went on about something or other that just didn't hold my interest. I can understand why this book ...more
Tea Jovanović
Prva knjiga iz serijala od šest romana o devojčici Flaviji i njenim čudnim interesovanjima i dogodovštinama... Nažalost, publika je kod nas nije prihvatila, a ni izdavač se nije adekvatno potrudio da je predstavi čitaocima... Knjiga u kojoj uživaju i tinejdžeri i odrasli širom sveta... Autor je rado viđen gost po sajmovima knjiga u svetu... Ne skida se s bestseler lista... Must read za mlade i one koji vole dobru knjigu... Veoma je zabavna! :)
Lisa Vegan
Apr 19, 2010 Lisa Vegan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: readers who enjoy quirky and unusual mysteries

I loved this quirky book.

The amateur sleuth and chemistry enthusiast Flavia de Luce is a very unusual 11 year old, but I’ve known many 11 year olds unusual in their own ways, so Flavia worked for me just fine. She’s completely over the top, yet somehow believable, at least within the narrative. She’s a fabulous character and a brilliant creation.

I smiled several times on almost every page, especially in the first part of the book. As with many mysteries, there was some quite scary (f
Flavia de Luce is not your average eleven year old. She lives in a decaying mansion. She has a passion for chemistry, especially poisons. And when she finds a man dying in her cucumber patch, it doesn't occur to her to be worried or scared. Instead, Flavia senses something delicious may come of it: adventure.
Thus Flavia sets out to find out just who the man is, and how he came to be dying in her cucumber patch. But what starts off as a fun, mysterious way to spend the summer of 1950 turns into s
If I were an eleven-year-old girl, I’d like to think I might resemble Flavia de Luce. Precocious, ubiquitous, and intelligent, she’s filled with energy and life, refers to her sisters as Feely and Daffy, and has an unbounding curiosity about the world around her, even though there’s always the chance she could blow up Bishop’s Lacey with her latest science experiment. Not knowing what trouble she might find herself in next kicked my curiosity into overdrive. Her voice kept me finely tuned into h ...more
Apr 21, 2010 Meagan rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: never-finished
I'm not usually one for mysteries because they're so much about the plot and not so much about the character, so it takes a good one to keep me interested.

Unfortunatley, this one did not. I found it terribly dry and borderline nodded off at several points. I guess I was hoping for more of a 'Mysterious case of the dog in the nighttime'. Instead it just seemed to almost trudge along at an alarmingly tottering pace.

I did find the main character, Flavia, fairly charming and I think if she were wri
Heather (DeathByBook)
This is a new favorite! I read it in two sittings and am ready to start agiain. Flavia de Luce is one of my top new detectives. I only wish I could have her over for tea to discuss the difficulty of living with older sisters and perhaps, poisons. I'm sure it has been said by many and I agree, that this book is an absolute delight.
Feb 19, 2015 Mona rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Delightful and Unique Young Protagonist, Flawed Story

Eleven year old Flavia de Luce is such a delightful and unique character. "The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie" is worth reading just to make her acquaintance.

She is a precociously brilliant child living in Northern England in the 1950s. Her passion in life is chemistry (specifically poisons) and she has her own chemistry lab. She is also an accomplished fibber (well, probably not as accomplished as she thinks, since several adults see thr
Mar 15, 2009 Brenda rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Clever plot, unusual subject (stamp collecting), interesting setting and time, and amusing characters flesh out this funny little mystery. Flavia is a smart and snarky little detective whose passion is poison. I look forward to more Flavia.
Wart Hill
Apr 21, 2015 Wart Hill rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery, historical
Things I Find While Shelving

Well, that was disappointing. I have been looking forward to reading this for awhile and I was finally in the mood and it was in at the library (I've tried the audio but find it far too annoying), so I was super psyched!

And then it was...super meh.

Flavia is beyond annoying. As are most of the characters, but especially Flavia. It annoys me greatly that she thinks she needs to compete with the police to solve a murder because a) she's eleven and b) it's a murder leave
Lisa Kay
Three-speed BSA Keep Fit
This is a review of the audiobook. Jayne Entwistle does a perfect eleven-year-old Flavia in this audiobook – in tone, intellect, and mischievousness! I know I enjoyed it twice as much than if I’d only read Alan Bradley delightful book. What fun! This first in the Flavia de Luce Mystery series is a jewel.

I loved being transported back to the 1950s and joining Flavia as she took her bicycle*, Gladys, on her investigation round her charming English village of Bishop’s Lac
A clever, sassy, Nancy Drew like book with a young girl who loves chemistry and mystery. A fun, fast paced ride with our heroine Flavia, the youngest of three girls being raised by their father. Flavia's angst and curiosity is entertaining and hits on all cylinders in this cozy murder mystery that can be enjoyed by young and old alike. A good story mixed with good narration makes for a win, win adventure.
Jun 19, 2010 Kasia rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I cant' believe this is the author's first work, in short it's really amazing, I mean a gloriously adorable kaleidoscope of words and textures and emotions, pure bliss to read! Set in 1950's England, the mystery has a rustic feel to it but is very easy to read and enjoy. It's not often that the protagonist is an eleven year old little girl, who's as feisty and cunning as it gets. Flava de Luce has a love affair with chemistry. Glass flasks and potions are more fun than hanging out and doing kid ...more
Jun 06, 2015 Carolyn rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery, humour
I really enjoyed this first book in this series set in the England of the 1950s. In Flavia de Luce, the author has created a really unique character. A highly intelligent 11 year old who loves Chemistry and poisons in particular and is not only highly observant but good at putting two and two together and running rings around police detectives. The mystery starts with a dead snipe with a stamp impaled on it's beak being left on the doorstep of the family's front doorstep. Later when a body turns ...more
You’d really think a book about an eleven-year-old smart-mouth named flavia de Luce who lives on an old English estate in 1950, loves chemistry and poisons, and solves crime would be inherently awesome. Unfortunately, no book is inherently awesome. Why do I have to keep learning this over and over again?

This one is just . . . lacking . . . something. I mean, Flavia’s great – she’s the sort of crazy who, at eleven, plans to write a magnum opus on poisons and note, under cyanide, that it is “parti
I couldn't believe my eyes when I saw that this book was available at my library translated to Swedish. I really don't have time for library books, but sometimes I have to make an exception.

Flavia de Luce is a wonderful 11-year old girl with a passion for chemistry (nothing we really share, but I love that she loves it) and in this book she has to clear her father from a murder charge. But what have stamps to do with the murder?

I admit I had some trouble getting into the story, but I think it wa
Jul 05, 2009 Annalisa rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Annalisa by: Leslie
It took me such a long to time to get this book, to understand what the author was writing about, that I found myself not excited (although not exactly reluctant) to keep reading. A mystery should have a fairly easy job of keeping the suspense going, but Bradley doesn't really pull you in for a long time. It was not until halfway through the book that I was finally interested in the story. I heard it's the author's job to teach you how to read his or her book. That's what this book is lacking: a ...more
Mar 11, 2016 Jessie rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition

I liked a lot of things about this book.

Flavia was a great character. It was interesting to see the detective in the story as a 11 year old girl. It was also enduring to have her try to solve the case to save her father who was accused of murdering a man that was found in their garden. I also liked the character of Dodger who seemed to be a honoree grandfather to Flavia and her sisters.

My main issue with the story is it seemed to lag in the middle of the book for a few chapters. But then it
Jun 22, 2015 Brooke rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I am in love with this delightful book. It's charm and quirky cast of characters has now etched a place in my heart forever.

Seriously one of the best books I have read in a long time and will be in my top books of 2015!

Flavia, oh Flavia where do I even start with this adorable character. She has an essence of a Scout Finch about her, but mainly is one of the most unique characters I've had the chance to "meet". She is smart, funny, and nerdy. I loved her! I loved the mystery! I loved the 70 YE
Boy, I really wanted to like this book more - it has such promise! A brainy 11 year old sleuth(ess) who's into poisons and chemistry, plus the book starts out with her escaping from being tied up and thrown into a closet of her huge, stately English house - all very promising. I thought at first I was getting a 1950's British "Wednesday" (Addams). But things don't turn out that way. Flavia de Luce, the precocious main character (the book is told first person), just didn't ring consistently true ...more
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Librarian Note: There is more than one author in the Goodreads database with this name.

With an education in electronic engineering, Alan worked at numerous radio and television stations in Ontario, and at Ryerson Polytechnical Institute (now Ryerson University) in Toronto, before becoming Director of Television Engineering in the media centre at the University of Saskatchewan in Saskatoon, where
More about Alan Bradley...

Other Books in the Series

Flavia de Luce (8 books)
  • The Weed That Strings the Hangman's Bag (Flavia de Luce, #2)
  • A Red Herring Without Mustard (Flavia de Luce, #3)
  • I Am Half-Sick of Shadows (Flavia De Luce, #4)
  • Speaking from Among the Bones (Flavia de Luce, #5 )
  • The Dead in Their Vaulted Arches (Flavia de Luce, #6)
  • As Chimney Sweepers Come to Dust (Flavia de Luce, #7)
  • Thrice the Brinded Cat Hath Mew'd (Flavia de Luce, #8)

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