**** The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie, Alan Bradley, 2010
Finally, after many months, we get a four-star book! The best description of this book is to imagine an 11-year-old Miss Marple. That pretty much says it all, and for those who like that sort of thing will love this.
For those not familiar with Miss Marple, we're talking about a classis whodunit set in the 1950 English countryside. The protagonist, 11-year-old chemical genius Flavia de Luce, finds a body in the cucumber patch and we're off and running. Flavia is a precocious narrator in the tradition of Scout (To Kill a Mockingbird) or Swede (Peace Like a River).
I stayed up until two and three AM on multiple occasions reading this book. This is Alan Bradley's first novel, published when he was 70. It may be his first novel, but this is definitely not his first rodeo. Some of the figures of speech spun my head around like a carousel.
I can't recommend it highly enough. I will definitely be following all of Flavia's adventures, several of which are already available.