review: the sweetness at the bottom of the pie

1 03 2009

I am still making my way through Sacred Games – I know it seems it is taking forever (and it is), but I am enjoying it very much and I’m actually glad that I’m able to stay so long in the world Vikram Chandra has created.

I was away last weekend and on the train for quite some time and I didn’t want to carry Sacred Games with me all weekend.  That lead me to a recent purchase: The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie.  I’d read a few good reviews on the blogs so I purchased it and then the next day found several articles about this little publishing phenomenon in different papers.

Alan Bradley’s first novel focuses on the precious Flavia.  She’s eleven and lives with her father and her two older sisters in a country house in England in the 1950s.  She has a gift for chemistry, and discovers a flair for investigating when a body is discovered in the cucumber patch of her family’s garden.

I’m afraid that the curse of too much hype has struck for me again.  Bradley’s novel seemed right up my street with the country house mystery, and Flavia sounds like an interesting heroine to develop this story (really a whole series around).  It was charming at times, and I did feel like Bradley captured the right tone throughout, but it fell a bit flat for me, and I expect that is because I’d had too high expectations.  I think another issue I had was that I found the solution far too easy to spot, with not enough different characters with motives.  Perhaps if there had been more of mystery to this whodunnit, it would have lived up to all of the hype.

I think I would watch for the second in the series as I think there’s a lot of potential.  I just didn’t find it lived up to that in this first volume in the series.

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