Flavia de Luce, an eleven-year-old chemistry prodigy in 1950 England, is taken by surprise early one morning by the discovery of a body in the garden of her house. The police are called in, but Flavia, not wanting to be left out, sets off on her own investigation.
I’m probably the last person in the blogosphere to read this book. Everyone has talked about how wonderful it is, but I wasn’t convinced until Kerri reviewed the second mystery in this series, The Weed That Strings the Hangman’s Bag. I loved the cover and title far better than I ever had Sweetness, and I put both books on my TBR list.
This book was awesome. I’m not always a mystery fan, but about this time of year, I start craving one or two mysteries, which satisfies me for the next year. Most of the time I read some generic cozy, but this year’s selection was far better! I adored Flavia, with her love of chemistry, her battles with older sisters Ophelia and Daphne, and her absolutely ridiculous and unbelievable narration. No one, and especially no child, speaks the way she does, but because it felt too over the top to be believable, it made me grin all the way through. It’s a writer’s technique that I’ve always thoroughly enjoyed.
The mystery was also a lot of fun. I never had a clue in advance what I was going to find out, and the setup was not the traditional flirting between several main suspects. Instead, we gathered information as we went along in Flavia’s wake. She reminded the reader of crucial moments just at the right times, and there was never any bait-and-switch trickery. The mystery was straightforward, as was the path towards the truth. I’ve never read a mystery quite like this, where trying to find the answer in advance wasn’t at all important.
I’ll add my voice to the chorus of people saying what a wonderful book Sweetness is.