Author: Alan Bradley
Publisher: Delacorte Press (April 28, 2009)
It is the summer of 1950–and at the once-grand mansion of Buckshaw, young Flavia de Luce, an aspiring chemist with a passion for poison, is intrigued by a series of inexplicable events: A dead bird is found on the doorstep, a postage stamp bizarrely pinned to its beak. Then, hours later, Flavia finds a man lying in the cucumber patch and watches him as he takes his dying breath.
For Flavia, who is both appalled and delighted, life begins in earnest when murder comes to Buckshaw. “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 de Luce is a precocious eleven-year old living in jolly old England in the 1950's. She loves chemistry and most of all, the fabrication of poisons (which none of the surrounding adults tend to give a second thought). I was almost afraid the dear girl would truly poison someone! Well, even though she did put poison ivy extract in her sister's lipstick and face cream, that shouldn't really count. So when this murdered man is found in a cucumber patch by none other than our lovely Flavia, she takes it upon herself to solve this case right under the Inspector's nose.
This book was everything I had hoped for and more. I enjoyed Flavia de Luce as a narrator. She is clever, witty, and fearless. It isn't difficult to forget that she is only eleven. The peripheral characters were fun as well. Especially, Mrs. Mullet and Dogger (the housekeeper and gardener, respectively) who seem to almost be more of a family to Flavia than her two sisters and somewhat distracted father.
The writing was superb. It was fast paced and kept me interested all the while. Never really a dull moment in the life of Flavia de Luce. I look forward to next installment The Weed that Strings the Hangman's Bag.