Taking place in 1950s England, The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie tells the story of Flavia, a smart, chemistry-loving 11-year-old with no mother and two sisters who ignore her. When Flavia discovers a murder in her garden (which just thrills her, by the way), and her father is taken away, she goes to great lengths to solve the case.
I enjoyed this book a lot. It's a quick, easy read. Flavia is a darling character. She's witty and smart and brave. At times I thought she was a little too witty and too smart - no 11-year-old could really be like that, could she? - but when I just stopped thinking of her as a typical preteen, I could enjoy her character even more. Her inner monologue was hilarious, her chemistry experiments were clever and her intelligence threw for a loop even the smartest men in town. (Her relationship with the Inspector on the case is tons of fun.)
With there being a murder, there is obviously a mystery she's trying to solve. Right in the middle of the book, she gets a great help from her imprisoned father, who has stories from his past he tells her. While I was reading this part of the book, I thought the author was giving too much away, and I thought he was kind of taking the easy way out. Show us, don't just tell us, what happened. But as the story went on, I realized Flavia had much more of the mystery to solve and not too much was given away too soon. This is definitely a cute and fun read, with a sweet ending to boot.
(And thanks to Bending Bookshelf, now I know there's a sequel in the works!)