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
Kerry Greenwood, creator of the 1920s sleuth Phryne Fisher, has a new, modern-day investigator to delight her fans. Corinna Chapman is a reformed accountant who, having escaped that profession and a boring marriage, now runs ‘Earthly Delights’, a city bakery in Melbourne. She lives in a 1920s apartment building where each flat is named after a Roman God and where the tenants are as colourful as a rainbow.
Corinna is content with her lot, until the morning she finds a drug addict dying outside her back door and later starts receiving threatening notes. Suddenly Corinna is entwined in the double mystery: who is killing the city’s drug-addicts and who is trying to get rid of Corinna and her fellow tenants.
Greenwood makes the transition from historical to contemporary seamlessly. Corinna Chapman is not just a modern-day Phryne Fisher, but there are enough of the ingredients which attract Greenwood’s readers to endear them to this new character. Notably familiar is the prevalence of good food and sensual assignations as well, of course, as a mystery which draws the reader inside the sleuth’s life.
Earthly Delights, by Kerry Greenwood
Allen & Unwin, 2004
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
Phryne Fisher is a sleuth with a difference – this 1920s Australian heroine is sassy, adventurous, promiscuous, and a woman before her time. Although she lacks a university education, she is versed in language, culture and the classics, and able to hold her own in any society. Men fall at her feet and women trust her. She is also brilliant, if unorthodox, in solving mysteries and crime.
In Death Before Wicket she visits Sydney to watch some cricket, attend a ball and visit the University. But Phryne’s plans for a few pleasurable days are interrupted by two mysteries – the disappearance of the sister of her companion, Dot, and the theft of exam papers and other documents from the University.
Phryne finds herself deep in the midst of greed, blackmail and the dangers of black magic, as she weaves some magic of her own to solve the twin mysteries.
Death Before Wicket is the tenth Phryne Fisher adventure from Kerry Greenwood. First published in 1999, it has been rereleased to coincide with the release of the latest installment, The Castlemaine Murders.
Death Before Wicket, by Kerry Greenwood
Allen & Unwin, 2003
When Phryne Fisher is invited to holiday at Cave House, she looks forward to some fine society and some quality time with her lover, Lin Chung. But she has barely arrived when she is caught up in solving a crime.
Fisher, by all appearances a lady of society,is in fact a sophisticated sleuth. Attracting danger and mystery nearly as much as she attracts members of the opposite sex, she maintains her elegance and composure whilst managing to be ruthless and canny.
In this case, her host, Tom Reynolds, has been receiving death threats from someone in the household, Phryne herself is nearly killed when her horse trips on a deliberately placed wire and the parlourmaid is strangled to death before her corpse mysteriously disappears.
Phryne finds herself in danger when she is locked in the cellar with Lin Chung, but, despite her fears, manages to solve the case and maintain her dignity.
The eight in the Phryne Fisher series, Urn Burial is stylish and sharp.
Urn Burial, by Kerry Greenwood
This edition published by Allen & Unwin, 2003, first published by Penguin, 1996
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