There aren’t many books written for adults with 11-year-old protagonists, but if The Sweetness At the Bottom of the Pie is any indicator, there should be more.
Author Alan Bradley (a fellow Canadian) has set this in England of the 1950s, with the heroine Flavia de Luce, a very unusual girl. She has a passion for chemistry, particularly poisons, and has unfettered access to a lab of her own. The interesting thing, though, is that you get such a sense of empathy towards her, by the end of the book I found chemistry sets starting to look appealing. In times of trouble, she asks “What would Dr. Bunsen do?” Her scientific curiosity extends to all areas of her life, and when she discovers a dead body, instead of being horrified, she is determined to get to the bottom of the mysterious murder.
I liked her character so much, I am going to read the other books that star her to date, of which there are currently three more. Of course, I have a soft spot for smart, mouthy little girls, having been one myself – and now having two of my own.
If you don’t mind your humour on the morbid side, and are looking for a change from the usual detectives I highly recommend this.