Monday, 15 March 2010

The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie - Alan Bradley

The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie is another “quick read” borrowed on impulse from my Library which I picked up when I went in to collect the first Mistborn book. I faintly remembered reading a positive review of this book somewhere and rather liked the first line of the blurb

(Cue the blurb): “
For very-nearly-eleven-year-old Flavia de Luce, the discovery of a dead snipe on the doorstep of Buckshaw, the crumbling de Luce country seat, was a marvellous mystery - especially since this particular snipe had a rather rare stamp neatly impaled on its beak. Even more astonishing was the effect of the dead bird on her stamp-collector father, who appeared to be genuinely frightened. Soon Flavia discovers something even more shocking in the cucumber patch and it's clear that the snipe was a bird of very ill omen indeed.

As the police descend on Buckshaw, Flavia decides it is up to her to piece together the clues and solve the puzzle. Who was the man she heard her father arguing with? What was the snipe doing in England at all? Who or what is the Ulster Avenger? And, most peculiar of all, who took a slice of Mrs Mullet's unspeakable custard pie that had been cooling by the window...?

I would say that the blurb gives a pretty good feeling for what this book is like. Our heroine, Flavia de Luce, has a deep passion for Chemistry and her motherless, unusual upbringing in the home she shares with two older sisters, a mostly absent father, the housekeeper and the groundsman, allows her to indulge her interests. I am quite sure that in real life Flavia would be utterly foul however when confined to the written page she makes an absolutely delightful heroine and this murder mystery was great fun to read.

I should say that the one gripe that I had with this book was that it is very clear that Alan Bradley is Canadian and although he is a self-confessed anglophile he’s not lived in the UK – and this meant that there were several glaring errors that escaped the editing process. Hopefully the next in the series will receive more attention as it was such a shame to see such obvious (to me anyway) errors sitting so jarringly out of context with the otherwise lovingly described rural 1950s English setting.

When I searched my blog roll to work out where I'd heard of the book from I realised that Carl had listed it as one of his books of the 2000s and you can read his (rather more thorough) review here.


Carl V. Anderson said...

I was definitely one raving out the book! I obviously didn't notice any of the errors that you did so you are more versed in that than I am. I'm certainly sorry they were there and it will be curious to see if you see improvement in the next book. I am about 50 pages in and am loving it as much as the first one.

Jodie said...

I remember Carl talking about this book and it sounds fun, a bit out of the ordinary.

Ana S. said...

That's a pity about the errors, but on the other hand, I'm sure I'll completely miss them :P I really think I'll enjoy this, so thank you for reminding me of it!

Peta said...

Ladies - It's a very sweet, old fashioned murder mystery so I hope you enjoy it as much as Carl did! The errors are not enough to ruin the story and I blame the editor - who should have got someone English to have a squizz before going to print.

Carl - I look forward to reading your thoughts on Book 2. It's not out here until next month but I shall certainly keep an eye out for it!