The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie: A Flavia de Luce Mystery
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It is the summer of 1950–and at the once-grand mansion of Buckshaw, young Flavia de Luce, an aspiring chemist with a passion for poison, is intrigued by a series of inexplicable events: A dead bird is found on the doorstep, a postage stamp bizarrely pinned to its beak. Then, hours later, Flavia finds a man lying in the cucumber patch and watches him as he takes his dying breath.
For Flavia, who is both appalled and delighted, life begins in earnest when murder comes to Buckshaw. “I wish I could say I was afraid, but I wasn’t. Quite the contrary. This was by far the most interesting thing that had ever happened to me in my entire life.”
I said pleasantly. “And you?” He reached for his crystal mints. Before the paper sack was halfway out of his pocket, I was salivating like a dog; hours of captivity and the gag had made the inside of my mouth taste like a Victorian ball-float. Dr. Darby rummaged for a moment among the mints, carefully selected the one that seemed most desirable, and popped it into his mouth. A moment later he was on his way home. The little crowd made way as a motorcar turned off into Cow Lane from the High
fumes of iodine. At the time, I thought it the perfect description, and nothing has happened over the past two years to change my mind. As I have said, there is something lacking in the de Luces: some chemical bond, or lack of it, that ties their tongues whenever they are threatened by affection. It is as unlikely that one de Luce would ever tell another that she loved her as it is that one peak in the Himalayas would bend over and whisper sweet nothings to an adjacent crag. This point was
extracted from the jonquil and what deadly liquors from the daffodil. Even the common churchyard yew, so loved by poets and by courting couples, contained within its seeds and leaves enough taxine to put paid to half the population of England. But these pleasures would have to wait. My duty was to Father, and it had fallen upon my shoulders to help him, particularly now that he couldn’t help himself. I knew that I should go to him, wherever he was, and lay my sword at his feet in the way that a
groan. “That is what I feared,” he whispered. “That is what I feared more than anything.” And then, as the rain swept in sheets across the windowpane, Father began to talk. fifteen AT FIRST FATHER’S UNACCUSTOMED WORDS CAME slowly and hesitantly—jerking into reluctant motion like rusty freight cars on the railway. But then, picking up speed, they soon smoothed out into a steady flow. “My father was not an easy man to like,” he said. “He sent me away to boarding school when I was eleven.
windmill my arms to keep from falling into it. As I teetered on the edge, I had a sickening glimpse of the cobbles far below shining blackly in the sun. The gap was perhaps eighteen inches wide, with a half-inch raised lip around it, bridged every ten feet or so by a narrow finger of stone that joined the jutting parapet to the roof. This opening had evidently been designed to provide emergency drainage in case of unusually heavy rainfall. I jumped carefully across the opening and looked over