This debut adult novel by Alan Bradley introduces the brilliant young chemist and amateur detective, ten year old Flavia de Luce. Flavia lives in a stately home in the countryside of Georgian England with her father, two sisters and various servants. One morning a dead jackdaw is found on their doorstep with a stamp impaled on its beak, upsetting Mr de Luce and raising questions about his past. When this is followed by the even more disturbing appearance of a body in the garden, Flavia is determined to find out the truth before the local police can.
Flavia is a likeable heroine, in the style of Nancy Drew but with more mischief in her. For example, she gleefully performs science experiments on her unsuspecting sister Ophelia, who, to be fair, gives as good as she gets. Flavia loves books and chemistry and has no truck with patronising adults.
The writing style is reminiscent of Alexander McCall Smith's No 1. Ladies' Detective Agency as well as his Isobel Dalhousie series. It's a cosy mystery which is intriguing enough to keep the reader's interest without being horrifying. The book trailer for the Norwegian translation will give you a feel for the story.
The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie is a quick read which would be great to take on holiday or enjoy with a cuppa on a winter evening. Just be sure that your hot chocolate isn't poisoned!
There are six books in the Flavia de Luce series so far, with the latest, As Chimney Sweepers Come To Dust due to be released in March 2015.