There are plenty of books with likable characters, or clever characters, or unique characters. But favorite characters? Those are much harder to come by. You know the ones I mean – the characters you wish were real so you could hang out with them, engage them in fascinating conversations, push them out into society and sit back to watch the fireworks. I have just made the acquaintance of such a character in Alan Bradley’s mystery novel The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie. Her name is Flavia de Luce, and she’s the youngest of three daughters of an aristocratic British family that has fallen on hard times. She’s diabolically clever, witty, full of vim and vigor, and an expert chemist with a passion for poison.
She’s also eleven years old.
When Flavia stumbles upon a dying stranger in the cucumber patch of her family’s estate, she sets out to discover his identity, the method of – and motive for – his murder, and his connection to her family: a connection that could have devastating consequences for those nearest and dearest to Flavia. Armed only with her trusty bicycle Gladys and her encyclopedic knowledge of chemical compounds – as well as a razor-sharp tongue and a talent for fibbing – Flavia worms her way into the investigation, much to the chagrin of the local inspector. You’ll cheer Flavia on as she makes discoveries and connections and ferrets out family secrets, and you’ll worry for her as her sleuthing brings her closer and closer to peril. Most of all, you’ll wish you could meet up with Flavia de Luce again soon – and, fortunately, you can! Flavia will be back in action in Bradley’s second novel in the series, The Weed That Strings the Hangman’s Bag, due out in March.