Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Sweetness At the Bottom of the Pie by Alan Bradley (2009)

It took quite a while to get into this one, and for once I'm glad I gave it more of a chance.  The point of view started out confusing, and I wasn't exactly sure what was going on, but as the book progressed, the narration and point of view became more compact and sharp, like a television set of yore gradually becoming focused by turning the dial.

In my mind, there are three kinds of mysteries (I'm certain there are more, but for this argument there will be three).  One kind is a puzzle you-the-reader are trying to figure out, most of the time with a detective, in which the author leaves clues to help you and red herrings to trip you up.  Another kind is when the joy of ht reading the book isn't figuring out the mystery, but watching the detective's deductive and detection skills at work.  The third kind is the best kind, a subtle combination of both.  The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie combines both of these attributes, but definitely heavy on the latter.  I figured out "whodunnit" about half way through, but that wasn't really what the book was about.  It was mostly about this girl using her powers of deduction to figure out who really killed the body in the garden, in order to save her strange and somewhat estranged father.

Funny note:  I forgot why I added this to my list of things to read.  When I picked it up, the cover and title read more "Fannie Flagg" than English cozy murder mystery!  Southern United States no - possibly the south of England (I'm always hazy on English geography unless it's the very, very obvious like Cornwall or Devon or the Welsh Marshes or Yorkshire).


The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie (Flavia de Luce, #1)The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie by Alan Bradley
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

A chapter or so in, I wasn't sure if I liked this one or not; it's definitely a book that you have give some time to sink in.  At some point in the book, the point of view narrows and becomes sharper, more compact - like a television set of old having the focus dial turned exactly the right way.  Once everything focuses on Flavia de Luce and her skills of deduction, the book romps right off into wonderful.  She's an unusual detective; it's set in an unusual time period for (1950s, pure Agatha Christie territory, which was wonderful).  The "whodunnit" isn't as interesting as the "how she figures this out."  Expect to be more surprised by the crisp writing, interesting characters,and non-murder mystery plot than the actual criminal.  Once the wonderful starts, you'll be unable to put it down until the very end.  Great fun.


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