Summer is here, and what better way to pass the long days than reading a fast-paced murder mystery with a pre-teen protagonist?!
Melissa led our book selection for August and the result is the debut novel of 70 year old Alan Bradley. Bon Appetite!
The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie by Alan Bradley — This book was Amazon’s Best of the Month in April 2009. It is really a young adult book, but don’t let that scare you off – it’s fantastic (at least I thought so)! It’s a fun and easy read for summer. I especially love that it’s author published it, his first novel, at the age of 70. Here is Amazon’s review: “It’s the beginning of a lazy summer in 1950 at the sleepy English village of Bishop’s Lacey. Up at the great house of Buckshaw, aspiring chemist Flavia de Luce passes the time tinkering in the laboratory she’s inherited from her deceased mother and an eccentric great uncle. When Flavia discovers a murdered stranger in the cucumber patch outside her bedroom window early one morning, she decides to leave aside her flasks and Bunsen burners to solve the crime herself, much to the chagrin of the local authorities. But who can blame her? What else does an eleven-year-old science prodigy have to do when left to her own devices? With her widowed father and two older sisters far too preoccupied with their own pursuits and passions—stamp collecting, adventure novels, and boys respectively—Flavia takes off on her trusty bicycle Gladys to catch a murderer. In Alan Bradley’s critically acclaimed debut mystery, The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie, adult readers will be totally charmed by this fearless, funny, and unflappable kid sleuth. But don’t be fooled: this carefully plotted detective novel (the first in a new series) features plenty of unexpected twists and turns and loads of tasty period detail. As the pages fly by, you’ll be rooting for this curious combination of Harriet the Spy and Sherlock Holmes. Go ahead, take a bite.”
Melissa also proposed the following two reads:
The Debs of Bletchley Park and Other Stories by Michael Smith — In light of the recent passing of Jane Fawcette, a codebreaker at Bletchley Park, I thought it might be interesting to read more about the brilliant women who worked in secret breaking code during WWII. Here is Amazon’s summary: “At the peak of Bletchley’s success, a total of twelve thousand people worked there of whom more than eight thousand were women. These included a former ballerina who helped to crack the Enigma Code; a debutante working for the Admiralty with a direct line to Churchill; the convent girl who operated the Bombes, the top secret machines that tested Enigma settings; and the German literature student whose codebreaking saved countless lives at D-Day. All these women were essential cogs in a very large machine, yet their stories have been kept secret. In The Debs of Bletchley Park and Other Stories author Michael Smith, trustee of Bletchley Park and chair of the Trust’s Historical Advisory Committee, tells their tale. Through interviews with the women themselves and unique access to the Bletchley Park archives, Smith reveals how they came to be there, the lives they gave up to do ‘their bit’ for the war effort, and the part they played in the vital work of ‘Station X’. They are an incredible set of women, and this is their story.”
The House of Secrets by Brad Meltzer — This is a brand new book. It is fiction with some real historical factoids thrown in for good measure. It sounds like it might be a fun read. Amazon’s summary: “When Hazel Nash was six years old, her father taught her: mysteries need to be solved. He should know. Hazel’s father is Jack Nash, the host of America’s favorite conspiracy TV show, The House of Secrets. Even as a child, she loved hearing her dad’s tall tales, especially the one about a leather book belonging to Benedict Arnold that was hidden in a corpse. Now, years later, Hazel wakes up in the hospital and remembers nothing, not even her own name. She’s told she’s been in a car accident that killed her father and injured her brother. But she can’t remember any of it, because of her own traumatic brain injury. Then a man from the FBI shows up, asking questions about her dad-and about his connection to the corpse of a man found with an object stuffed into his chest: a priceless book that belonged to Benedict Arnold.
Back at her house, Hazel finds guns that she doesn’t remember owning. On her forehead, she sees scars from fights she can’t recall. Most important, the more Hazel digs, the less she likes the person she seems to have been. Trying to put together the puzzle pieces of her past and present, Hazel Nash needs to figure out who killed this man-and how the book wound up in his chest. The answer will tell her the truth about her father, what he was really doing for the government-and who Hazel really is. Mysteries need to be solved. Especially the ones about yourself.”