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 The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie

by Alan Bradley

"It's the summer of 1950 in the idyllic English countryside, dotted with mist-invaded fields, crumbling stone walls, rolling lanes, and once-grand estates like Buckshaw, where Flavia lives with two older sisters (who are "absorbed in book and looking-glass," respectively) and an aloof, widowed father who prefers to stay indoors with his world-class stamp collection. But it's been a strange week at Buckshaw. First a dead bird with an antique stamp pierced ominously over its beak appeared on the family's doorstep, and now a corpse has materialized in the cucumber patch. Even before her father is arrested for the murder, Flavia (a chemistry whiz with a "particular passion" for poison and deduction) is on the case. Flavia is scheming, fearless, and brilliant, but she's still only 11--her sole means of transportation is a BFA Keep Fit bicycle, and she's often dismissed as a pint-size meddler. Alan Bradley never loses touch with the darker realities of this rustic English paradise: a town still haunted by the atrocities of World War II and trying to regain its footing in daily life. Flavia's real detective strength is getting adults to tell her what they remember--in a place where no one wants to talk about the past." -- Entertainment Weekly

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