I thought this book charming. The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie (2009) by Alan Bradley features 11 year-old Flavia deLuce and is set in a small English village in the 1950's. Flavia is smart, quick witted, and an aspiring chemist who sees herself as an expert on poisons. She has two older sisters that put on a show of detesting their little sister and a father who is a reclusive philatelist (stamp collector). Flavia's mother is deceased, killed in a mysterious mountain climbing accident.
This award winning book is a first in a series that is being compared to the Harriet the Spy series. It reminded me of Agatha Christie with a pre-teen scientific Miss Marple. The small village and its inhabitants are very much like the ones in the Christie novels.
A dead snipe (sort of like a black bird or rook) is found on the kitchen doorstep with its beak piercing a postage stamp and then a dead body turns up in the cucumber patch. Flavia's father is arrested and we are off on Flavia's investigations! It is a wonderful read full of twists and turns. It is a well written detective story, with a very different sort of detective that rides her old bicycle (named Gladys) everywhere she needs to go to find a clue.
Flavia is a wonderful heroine/detective. I laughed out loud at her thoughts, comments, and antics; yet was still captivated by the story. I am anxious for the next book it the series.
The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie was just released and should be at EVPL shortly.