Alan Bradley has created a gem of a character and a fantastically readable mystery in this debut novel. "The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie" stars 11 year old amateur (although she might bristle at that description) sleuth, Flavia de Luce. Set in post WWII England, Flavia stumbles upon a man dying in the de Luce vegetable garden who utters the word "Vale" into her ear with his last breath. With that, she is off to solve the murder.
As the story unfolds we learn about the de Luce family, their estate, Buckshaw, and the nearby town, Bishop's Lacey. Flavia is a precocious young woman with a keen interest in chemistry and poisons and a keener interest in everything going on around her.
First chance I get, I'm off to the library to check out and read the other two books in this series.