So I just finished two GREAT books for summer: The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pieby Alan Bradley ...AND... The Little Stranger by Sarah Waters The first was a charming, witty and wonderful little mystery - perfect for a summer day. The second was suspenseful, atmospheric and full of tension and mystery. BOTH would make great beach reads! Bradley (author of Sweetness) is a 70 year old first time author. He wrote Sweetness and was immediately signed for a six book contract for his new series called The Buckshaw Chronicles. Our protagonist in this new mystery series set in Britain is Flavia deLuce, an eleven year old pigtailed chemist and amateur sleuth. When, exasperated from lack of sleep one evening, Flavia climbs out her bedroom window to wander the kitchen garden and stumbles over a dead body in the cucumber patch. Rather than leave the investigation to the local detectives, Flavia decides to begin her own research into the case. This particular reviewer and librarian loved the fact that Flavia's research sent her to the village library many, many times. Flavia's love of chemistry recurs throughout the novel in inventive ways, as does her father's habit of philately, both great reasons to love this story. I just adored Flavia, her eccentric family, village friends and her masterfully told story. I simply cannot wait for the next books in this new series! Although the story is told from the viewpoint of a young girl, it is not at all a childish book and Flavia is a fantastic new voice in detective fiction! Sarah Waters' third novel is set in Britain after World War II. The main characters include the Ayres family and their family physician, Dr. Faraday. Dr. Faraday is called in for an innocent visit with the family's new maid, Betty, who lets slip during their interview that she has a strange feeling about the house. The good doctor passes this off as her naivete - she is young and not used to such a grand residence, nor in being away from her family. But, soon, the reader begins to see the cracks in the surface. Roderick, the heir to Hundreds Hall and the hope for the survival of the family's existence in the small village, begins to experince bouts of anxiety, depression, and something more. Soon the family hears noises in the hall, finds scratches in the woodwork, and The Little Stranger reminded me very much of Shirley Jackson's fiction. Full of psychological suspense and tension, the novel will make you wonder - is the Ayres' family's residence, Hundreds Hall, haunted or not? Is there a taint on the Ayres family as some in the village suggest? Are they all mad? Dr. Faraday does not seem quite sure, and neither will you, dear reader! Once you start reading this book, you will not be able to put it down. However, sleep with a night light on - you'll need it! If you liked previous Gothic summer hits such as The Thirteenth Tale or The Historian, then check out this title! Happy Reading! KM
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