This book is something else. I loved the unique amateur sleuth-a precocious eleven-year-old chemistry whizby the name of Flavia de Luce; the setting-1950's remote English country village; the mystery-a dying man in the garden in the early hours of the morning. The characters in this cozy mystery are truly wonderful. First we have Flavia herself. She's a chemistry genius, but her main penchant is for creating posisons. We have her two older sisters-Opheila (Filly) and Daphne (Daffy) who Flavia enjoys tormenting. We have her father-a strange quiet man who still mourns the disappearance of his wife and a man who is totally engaged with his stamps. His daughters are pretty much left to their own devices. Then there is the housekeeper - Mrs. Mullen and of course the man of all tasks Dogger-a man who is suffering from post-traumatic stress from the war. This mismatched household lives in a crumbling mansion called Buckshaw. The whole story begins with a dead bird showing up on the doorstep of Buckshaw one morning. This act nearly derails Flavia's father and it starts the whole ball rolling (so to speak). Flavia finds a dying man lying in the cucumber patch the next day, and she determines to find out what happened to this stranger. Young Flavia has a scientific mind, so she employs the same skills when trying to solve a murder. Her investigation takes her back thirty years when a well-loved professor threw himself to his death from top of the highest steeple at the school where Flavia's father is a young student. This book is so much fun and Flavia is such a delight, that I intend to read the others in this wonderful series. This brilliant book won the Golden Dagger award in 2009 for best first mystery novel. Alan Bradley does a marvelous job of portraying Flavia. She is a one-in-a-million fictional character that will stick with me for a long time.