Amazon and several magazines that I read recommended this book, so I recently checked it out and finished it yesterday. A murder mystery at heart, this novel by Alan Bradley is set in rural England in 1950 and is narrated by Flavia de Luce, the awesome protagonist.
She's 11, loves chemistry (especially poisons and antidotes--yikes!), proves to be extremely astute, and is completely, endearingly British. Her mother died before Flavia could remember her, and now she's sort of stuck with a standoffish father and two older, dramatic sisters. When the dead body of a shady stranger turns up in the cucumber patch of her family's stately mansion, Flavia immediately goes into sleuth mode to solve the crime and protect members of her household who could possibly have had a motive.
The author writes so convincingly from a girl's perspective that I often forgot that Alan = male. It's a wonderful read, and I was pumped to learn in the author's notes at the end that it's in the process of becoming a series. Give it a whirl, won't you?
I also wanted to share an excerpt from the book (page 85) that especially stood out:
I detected instantly that she didn't like me. It's a fact of life that a girl can tell in a flash if another girl likes her. Feely says that there is a broken telephone connection between men and women, and we can never know which of us rang off. With a boy you never know whether he's smitten or gagging, but with a girl you can tell in the first three seconds. Between girls there is a silent and unending flow of invisible signals, like the high-frequency wireless messages between the shore and the ships at sea, and this secret flow of dots and dashes was signaling that Mary detested me.
A female co-worker of mine told me (basically) this exact thing several years ago, and reading this passage brought back that idea and made it real for me. Do you agree with this assessment?