Unnatural Habits, by Kerry Greenwood

‘No one cares about bad girls!’ Polly burst out indignantly. ‘They make one mistake and they are shut up in the laundry doing hard work. Their babies are adopted out. they are ruined. We ought to have got beyond that. What use is freedom – they told us that they fought that war for freedom – when the women are still punished and the men go on to seduce another girl?’

Girl Reporter Polly Kettle is on a case. Girls and pregnant women are going missing all over Melbourne, and she’s going to figure out what’s happening to them. Phryne Fisher warns her to be careful but the warning is unheeded and soon Polly vanishes, too. It’s time for Phryne, Dot and her minions, to figure out what is going on. But this is a case which take all of Phryne’s strength – both physical and emotional – as she delves into some truly horrible situations.

Unnatural Habits, the latest Phryne Fisher Mystery and features all the mystery, the raciness and the lushness of previous instalments, with favourite characters including (of course) the daring Phryne Fisher, independently wealthy and sharp private investigator, her companion the straight-laced Dot, her adopted daughters and her Chinese lover, the luscious Lin.

Whilst she has certainly faced dark realities in previous mysteries, Unnatural Habits takes Phryne to some truly terrible places, which confront her as much as they will confront the reader – particularly as she explores both child abuse and the appalling treatment of unwed mothers. However, Greenwood has the knack of entertaining and amusing even whilst not holding back, so that while the horrible realities are not played down, the reader is offered relief in sub plots and character development. New character Tinker is one such bright spot, a teenage boy finding himself resident in a sea of females in Phryne’s house.

Set in 1929 Melbourne, Unnatural Habits is a highly satisfactory addition to the series.

Unnatural Habits

Unnatural Habits, by Kerry Greenwood
Allen & Unwin, 2012
ISBN 9781742372433

Available from good bookstores or online.

The Green Mill Murder, by Kerry Greenwood

It was eleven by the Green Mill’s clock when the cornet player went into a muted reprise in ‘Bye Bye Blackbird’, and one of the marathon dancers plunged heavily and finally to the floor at Phryne Fisher’s feet. She stumbled over him. His partner dropped to her knees with a wail.

There is no prelude to the murder in this book. The murder takes place in paragraph one and the rest of the book is devoted to the business of solving the mystery and wrapping up the side dramas which arise as a consequence.

No-nonsense amateur sleuth, the Hon. Phryne Fisher is at the scene of the murder and, of course, decides she will solve it, especially when her dance partner, Charles Freeman, disappears from the scene. Although he seems the prime suspect, Phryne is quite sure he isn’t guilty. She isn’t, however, sure who is, nor how they managed to stab a man without coming near him. Phryne, however, delights in a good mystery and will pursue it relentlessly until it is solved.

This is Phryne Fisher’s fifth msytery and, like its predecessors, provides plenty of action. As well as the mystery of the murder, there are the additional puzzles of Charles Freeman’s missing brother and the absentee husband of one of the band members. Like all of author Greenwood’s offerings, there is a plethora of fine food, good music, quality wine and – of course – beautiful men, all of which Phryne Fisher is devoted to.

Phryne Fisher is a woman before her time in 1920s Melbourne, with tastes and attitudes that shock some of her more conservative peers, but the money and class to get away with them. She is a strong, liberated woman, but certainly not averse to partaking of male assistance when required.

The Greenmill Murder was first published in 1993 by McPhee Gribble and has now been republished by Allen & Unwin.

An absorbing read.

The Greenmill Murder, by Kerry Greenwood
Allen & Unwin, 2005

Ruddy Gore, by Kerry Greenwood

‘Come for a walk, Phryne dear,’ said Bernard, looking harried. . . He lead her out into the passage and said rapidly, ‘I need your help. This is only the latest thing that has gone awry. Let me take you to supper, Phryne darling, and I’ll tell you all about it.’

Having been involved in a skrimish with thugs on her way to the theatre, the last thing Phryne wants or expects is to be involved in more off-stage dramas. But her luck is not running well. An actor has been killed while he’s been performing on stage. Sir Bernard, the company manager, wants Phryne to solve the msytery.

But the murder is not the only mishap. A ghost has been haunting the theatre, things have been going missing and the entire cast and crew are on edge.

This is the seventh Phryne Fisher mystery, first published in 1995 and now republished by Allen & Unwin. As well as an intriguing mystery played out in the theatre, it is also the book which introduces the handsome Lin Chun, Phryne’s oriental lover who plays a role in each subsequent title.

Phryne Fisher is a sassy yet classy private detective with a taste for the mysterious, as well as for the fine things in life – fast cars, good wine, beautiful clothes and more.

Ruddy Gore, which takes its name from the Gilbert and Sullivan operetta Ruddigore (the production on show at the theatre) is an enjoyable and intriguing offering.

Ruddy Gore, by Kerry Greenwood
Allen & Unwin, 2004, first published by McPhee Gribble, 1995

Queen of the Flowers, by Kerry Greenwood

Phryne (she tells us it rhymes with briny) Fisher is a detective with a difference. Living in 1920s Melbourne she is rich, sassy and classy. She’s not in the business to make money or earn fame, but seems instead to be motivated by a fascination for a good mystery and a desire to help those who are worthy of such assistance. She is not above bending the law when it suits her ends and has friends on both sides of the law, who come together to help out when needed.

In Queen of the Flowers Phryne chases a mystery which becomes increasingly personal. She has been chosen as Queen of the Flowers for the 1928 Flower Parade. When one of her four flower maidens disappears, she is called in to investigate. Has the girl run away or has she been kidnapped?

Phryne has no sooner located the missing girl than one of her own adopted daughters, Ruth, disappears. Ruth has been searching for her birth father and, it seems, has run off for a reunion. In the midst of the Flower Festival festivities Phryne must struggle to reunite her family. She might also be struggling to make it to the festival alive.

This is the fourteenth Phryne Fisher novel and shows all the careful research and excellent story-spinning qualitites of the previous installments. Greenwood’s passion for history and mystery combine in a seductive tale which draws readers in to the life of this saucy detective.

Queen of the Flowers, by Kerry Greenwood
Allen & Unwin, 2004

The Castlemaine Murders, by Kerry Greenwood

For those who expect fictional sleuths to be either slightly alcoholic, but charming, old men, or tweed wearing women, Phyrne Fisher comes as somewhat of a surprise. Miss Fisher is a sassy, liberated woman in post world war one Australia, who seems to have a penchant for being caught up in murder cases which she never fails to solve.

In her latest adventure, The Castelmaine Murders, Phryne meets with a mummified bullet-studded corpse in the ghost train at Luna Park. Unable to leave the mystery alone, Phryne heads off to Castelmaine, determined to solve the case.

As always, solving a mystery is a dangerous past time, and Phryne soon finds herself in a spot of bother. Perhaps her Chinese lover Lin Chung will need to act as her knight in shining armour.

The Castlemaine Murders, by Kerry Greenwood
Allen & Unwin, 2003

Murder in Montparnesse, by Kerry Greenwood

There is nothing that inspires Phryne Fisher more than a mystery. When her wharfie mates Bert and Cec come to her for help, Phryne becomes involved in solving a mystery more personal than she first expects.

Bert, Cec and their five mates, celebrating the end of World War I in 1918, have unknowingly witnessed a murder in Paris. Ten years later, two have died in strange circumstances and the remaining five men fear for their own lives.

While Phryne delves into these events in a quest to find the killer, she must deal witht he memories of her own time in Paris. Her former lover Rene Dubois returns to haunt both her dreams and her reality.

At the same time, Phryne’s houshold is in turmoil. Her lover, Lin Chung, is about to be married and her trusted staff are threatening to leave her employ.

Murder in Montparnesse is the twelfth title in the Phryne Fisher series by Australian author Kerry Greenwood. For those not familiar with this sassy, self-styled detective of 1920s Melbourne, there are some unanswered questions about her background, however as the novel progresses these become less important.

Phryne Fisher moves in a world of class and culture, but hovers on the edge of shadow and intrigue. She is equally comfortable with fine art and cocktails as with house breaking and vengeance – on the side of justice, of course.

Murder in Montparnesse is a delight for lovers of crime fiction.

Murder in Montparnesse, by Kerry Greenwood
Allen & Unwin 2002