Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie (Flavia de Luce, #1)” as Want to Read:
The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie (Flavia de Luce, #1)
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie

(Flavia de Luce #1)

3.81  ·  Rating details ·  153,366 ratings  ·  16,589 reviews
It is the summer of 1950–and at the once-grand mansion of Buckshaw, young Flavia de Luce, an aspiring chemist with a passion for poison, is intrigued by a series of inexplicable events: A dead bird is found on the doorstep, a postage stamp bizarrely pinned to its beak. Then, hours later, Flavia finds a man lying in the cucumber patch and watches him as he takes his dying b ...more
Kindle Edition, 386 pages
Published April 24th 2009 by Delacorte Press
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie, please sign up.
Popular Answered Questions
Jason Osper Most ADULTS will not get all the allusions to classical music, deceased scientists, and general Britishisms in these novels. That doesn't mean it's to…moreMost ADULTS will not get all the allusions to classical music, deceased scientists, and general Britishisms in these novels. That doesn't mean it's too difficult for young readers - since when is reading not supposed to offer any challenge? It just means they readers have an opportunity to educate themselves on some of those unknown concepts, diction, and historical tidbits that Bradley peppers throughout the series. The chemistry references are NOT, I repeat, NOT that hard to understand. If anything, they would instill an interest in the subject as any of Flavia's chemical musings are offered up with fantastic real life contexts. (less)
Ms. McGregor I'm wondering the same thing. I was horrified that I recommended this book to an Asian-American student earlier this year because of the things I had …moreI'm wondering the same thing. I was horrified that I recommended this book to an Asian-American student earlier this year because of the things I had heard about it, and now I'm in the middle of it and came to that part. :( The worst part is that at least at my current progress in the book, it serves NO PURPOSE in the characterization or plot. (less)
The Name of the Rose by Umberto EcoThe Alienist by Caleb CarrThe Historian by Elizabeth KostovaThe Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz ZafónMistress of the Art of Death by Ariana Franklin
Best Historical Mystery
1,715 books — 4,163 voters
The Help by Kathryn StockettThe Kite Runner by Khaled HosseiniWater for Elephants by Sara GruenThe Book Thief by Markus ZusakTo Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
Best for Book Clubs
7,291 books — 13,450 voters

More lists with this book...

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 3.81  · 
Rating details
 ·  153,366 ratings  ·  16,589 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie (Flavia de Luce, #1)
Dec 02, 2009 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
Apr 24, 2010 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
Oct 26, 2013 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: abandoned
So ... I'm the outlier. I cannot abide Flavia de Luce - yes, the same Flavia de Luce that everyone else in the reading universe - or at least the subset of those who enjoy mysteries - loves, adores, enjoys. For months I hid my outlier status by changing the applicable shelf from "currently reading" to "to read", but have decided that today I shall end the deception and own my outlier status. I am a grown woman. I can handle the blow back from admitting that being forced to read one more page rel ...more
An 11-year-old wunderkind detective who is obsessed with poison . . . maybe more disturbing than the mystery she is solving . . . but charming as hell!

Meet Flavia de Luce – sometimes funny, sometimes lucky, sometimes brilliant beyond her years, sometimes in the wrong place at the wrong time, always kinda creepy!

I think maybe Wednesday Addams is a good comparison – perhaps a more adorable and less dark Wednesday:

The book was okay – it bogged down A LOT in the middle with the history of British st
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.
Mario the lone bookwolf
A clever, witty and perfectly orchestrated young adult crime fun.

The rise of more female main protagonists, not just in movies, but also in literature has begun and this masterpiece is a prime example of it. I like that the main protagonist idealizes MINT, especially chemistry and is so smart in comparison with her stereotypical, superficial sisters.

The sarcasm and extremely wise world view of the first person characterization gives a unique and intense insight into the thinkings and feelings o
Mar 11, 2010 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
Sep 05, 2008 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
Dorie  - Cats&Books :)
**All time favorite and beginning of my love with the Flavia books**

Flavia de Luce is one of the most unique young heroines I've ever encountered in literature. Story takes place in England in the 1950's. Flavia is the youngest of 3 sisters and unlike many girls her age. She is IN LOVE with everything chemistry. She spends most of her time in her own company reading complicated college and beyond chemistry books and has a well stocked lab which she uses to conjure up all manner of things, includ
Dan Schwent
May 18, 2015 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
Jun 17, 2009 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. ...more
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
Mar 29, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I am a sucker for girl power. I say that right off the bat, so I loved the malevolent girl detective Flavia who although she has some serious issues with her sisters is so darn plucky and strong that I couldn't help but be in her corner. Her beloved father is accused of murder and it's up to her to prove his innocence as the police seem to be going by the old adage, if you're in the vicinity you're the guy. ...more
Jun 07, 2009 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
Oct 08, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: e-book, mystery-shelf, ya
The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie by Alan Bradley is a 2009 Delacorte Press publication.

Several years back, I received a copy of the fifth book in this series for review purposes. I had no idea I was agreeing to read a YA mystery, and was slightly irritated at myself for not researching the context before agreeing to review it.

But, once I started reading it, I realized the novel was not necessarily for kids or young adults. In fact, I wondered if perhaps the book was for adults but market
“And then I saw the sign. A few steps up from the bottom, a length of chain was draped across the steps, with a hand-printed card:

‘Tower Off Limits — Strictly Enforced.’

I was up them like a shot.”

Yes! Intrepid is the word for 11-year-old Flavia de Luce of Buckshaw, Bishop’s Lacey. Adventurous, bold, clever, devious, enchanting, feisty – there’s an alphabet of words for this captivating ‘child’, a word I use loosely, only because technically she is only a child. ‘Captivating’ is apt, because
On the day I finally begin my magnum opus on the world of the "girl detective" there will be an entire chapter devoted to the wonder that is Flavia de Luce.

Flavia is the most winning sociopath since Sherlock Holmes with all the charm and winning personality of every eleven year old, which is to say none. When not actively trying to murder her older sisters she can be found brewing deadly poison in her home chemistry lab. You know, kids stuff.

Flavia and her world are a chaotic mishmash of charmi
Adina (taking a break from literary fiction)
A different kind of mystery book that I found fascinating.

First star is for the heroine. A witty 11 years old precocious girl, with a passion for chemistry, especially poison who finds a dead body in her garden and decides to investigate the murder herself.

Two stars are for the setting. The novel is set in the English countryside in the 1950'. The girl and her family live in an old mansion at the outskirts of a small village. I really enjoyed the small village atmosphere where everybody knew e
Jun 01, 2010 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
Algernon (Darth Anyan)
Jan 25, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2018

Sometimes reviewing a book is a bit of a chore, especially if I really liked the novel and I want to do it justice. Other times, reviewing is sheer pleasure, and it does not necessarily follows that the book was popcorn. Revisiting bookmarks and notes proves to be a chance for laughing out loud all over again and reading just another couple of pages for the pleasure of the company of say mr. Bertie Wooster or Arthur Dent.

Flavia de Luce is that sort of companion that charms you out of your shoes
Meredith Holley
Jan 13, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Meredith 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
Feb 10, 2020 rated it it was ok
I really wanted to like this book but I just couldn’t get into it at all. I was never one for Nancy Drew mysteries and this reminded me of those books. The story just did not hold my interest and it took a great effort for me to finish this book.
Lisa  (not getting friends updates) Vegan

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
Wart Hill
Apr 16, 2015 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
Jul 23, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: why-eh, i-said

A surprisingly, delightfull who dunnit, introducing Flavia De Luce, who is one of the most captivating, young characters I have met since young Harry came out from his cupboard under the stairs. I'll definitely be reading the next chemical caper.

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
Dan Lutts
Feb 16, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: mystery
For months my wife, Lisa, had been after me to read Alan Bradley's The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie. Really? An eleven-year-old British girl – who's an erudite, geeky, amateur chemist – solving murders? You've gotta be kidding. So I kept putting her off, even though she'd given me one book after another in the series after she'd read them it until I had the first four gathering dust on my To Read shelf.

Recently, we had to go on a trip to Boston and I had the bright idea of bringing along a
May 26, 2009 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
Brooke — brooklynnnnereads
This was such a fun and comedic light mystery to read.

From the writing style to the whimsy of the main character, this story reminded me a lot of an adult version of 'Harriet the Spy' even though both main characters are children. I believe the audience for this novel is geared towards adults so that's why I say it's more of an adult version.

The main character was AMAZING. She was sarcastic, she was intelligent, and she had me laughing out loud with her external and internal dialogue.

This was
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. ...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »

Readers also enjoyed

  • The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency (No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency #1)
  • Maisie Dobbs (Maisie Dobbs, #1)
  • Still Life (Chief Inspector Armand Gamache, #1)
  • Crocodile on the Sandbank (Amelia Peabody, #1)
  • The Cuckoo's Calling (Cormoran Strike, #1)
  • The Beekeeper's Apprentice (Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes, #1)
  • In the Woods (Dublin Murder Squad, #1)
  • Death Comes to Pemberley
  • One for the Money (Stephanie Plum, #1)
  • A Fatal Grace (Chief Inspector Armand Gamache, #2)
  • All the Devils are Here (Chief Inspector Armand Gamache, #16)
  • Murder at the Vicarage (Miss Marple, #1)
  • The Mysterious Affair at Styles (Hercule Poirot #1)
  • A is for Alibi (Kinsey Millhone, #1)
  • Birds of a Feather (Maisie Dobbs, #2)
  • Moonflower Murders (Susan Ryeland #2)
  • The Cruelest Month (Chief Inspector Armand Gamache, #3)
  • The Jane Austen Society
See similar books…
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

Other books in the series

Flavia de Luce (10 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)
  • The Grave's a Fine and Private Place (Flavia de Luce, #9)
  • The Golden Tresses of the Dead (Flavia de Luce, #10)

Articles featuring this book

Are you new to reading mysteries and thrillers and feeling overwhelmed by where to start? As all good detectives know, narrowing down the list...
122 likes · 21 comments
“As I stood outside in Cow Lane, it occurred to me that Heaven must be a place where the library is open twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week.

No ... eight days a week.”
“Anyone who knew the word slattern was worth cultivating as a friend.” 236 likes
More quotes…