Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Flavia Flav

When I first came across the book The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie the title reminded me of a fav movie, Mildred Pierce. In it Joan Crawford works her way out of marriages and poverty in order to give her daughter all that she never had. When one of the characters wants to cut Joan down to size he tells her, "You smell of pie." Seeing this movie for the first time as child and now many times as an adult my reaction remains the same--whats wrong with that? So how could a book with this wacky title not intrigue me?

My affair with Sweetness may have started as misplaced Mildred Pierce fascination but it quickly became full on love.  You loved it too Flower and now others must read it. This is a mystery novel that will completely capture you. That's funny because when you look at it critically it doesn't sound like much, but it has that old star quality. It has literary charisma. The detective is unique and seductive and the plot has enough Agatha Christie and quirkiness to delight readers of any genres.

Sweetness has all the classic mystery novel trappings: small English village, closets storing secrets, hidden rooms, dying utterances, tested loyalties and the single minded detective who carries the day. Like all mysteries it's the detective that makes the book work. In Sweetness the detective is Flavia de Luce an 11 year old chemistry fiend, youngest of 3 sisters living on a large, somewhat dilapidated estate with their grieving Father in the 1950's England. It's Flavia who finds the body, "I wish I could say I was afraid, but I wasn't. Quite the contrary. This was by far the most interesting thing that had ever happened to me in my entire life." Flavia the awesome then divides her time between solving the crime and working on poison lipstick to inflict on her sister.

I have established my adoration for Sweetness but there is one oddity here. Sweetness is more a young adult novel than an adult one. Generally teen books published as adult books annoy the #$*&@ out of me like, say The Secret Life of Bees. Obviously I got over that bugaboo and this was not the case here. However my 14 year old niece loved Sweetness as much as we did. The packaging of this novel feeds into the Young adult novel feel. It's an odd sized, smaller than average hardcover. There's no dust jacket and a definite classic Nancy Drew feel.

Read it. You'll be entranced just like we were and then you'll be happy to learn that the sequel comes out in March 2010! Hooray!


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