Welcome to the new Independent website. We hope you enjoy it and we value your feedback. Please contact us here.


The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie, By Alan Bradley

Eleven-year old Flavia de Luce, the heroine of this appealing detective debut (the first in a series), brings a breath of fresh air to the world of period-piece sleuthing.

Brainy, funny and pigtailed, Flavia spends her days concocting poisons to try out on her spiteful elder sisters. Her experiments, however, are unexpectedly postponed by a much more exciting event in her life – the discovery of a corpse in the family cucumber patch.

A post-war English country house murder ensues, with stamp-collecting and ornithology. Cosily arcane and modishly fast-paced Bradley, a Canadian who prior to writing the book had never visited England, draws on his close acquaintance with the works of Arthur Conan Doyle, Agatha Christie and Dorothy L Sayers.