Thursday, March 11, 2010

Nancy Drew + Sherlock Holmes = Flavia de Luce

The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie
Alan Bradley

If Nancy Drew and Sherlock Holmes had a child, it would be Flavia de Luce! Extremely precocious, unbelievably mischievous, and a flare for Holmesian reasoning, Flavia sets out to unravel the mystery behind the dead body she discovered in her family cucumber patch - especially because doing so will clear her fathers name. Her inquiries set her down the path of historical uprisings, schoolboy tragedies, plot twists and turn - and an extremely rare postage stamp is at the heart of it all.

Flavia is a character that should garner your sympathy - the youngest of three sisters who seems to be the odd-man out, a mother who passed away when she was too young to remember, and a father who has emotionally checked out. However, these things have not kept her from exploring her love of chemistry in an attic lab, torturing her older sisters in creative ways, and cultivating a sincere friendship with the family handyman, Dogger (who happens to be my second favorite character!)

Sweetness is reminiscent of classic suspense novels where the violence happens off-screen and the heroine manages to stay a half-step ahead of you as she weaves her way through the facts and to the ending.

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