RogerBW's Blog

Death by Water, Kerry Greenwood 20 April 2017

2005 historical detection, fifteenth in Greenwood's Phryne Fisher series (1920s flapper detective in Australia). After a series of jewel thefts aboard the SS Hinemoa, Phryne is employed by P&O as both detective and bait.

On previous occasions, for example with Urn Burial and particularly Blood and Circuses, I've been unimpressed when Phryne is removed from her native setting: the family she's built up round herself is an important part of these stories. But here she's disconnected from all of that except for Dot her maid-companion, and it works; perhaps because, unlike the circus, this is a world in which she does know the ropes and how to get on, and unlike the country house, she is able to make more allies at once.

The potential thieves are all assigned to the same table, and it's pretty clear that most of them are Nice and only a few are Nasty, so it's really a matter of matching up the nasty people with their specific sins. The nice people are all thoroughly non-racist and accepting of foreign cultures, in a way that doesn't seem entirely reasonable for 1928 but I suppose is not impossible; meanwhile, the Maori crew are all eager to help Phryne, but then again so is pretty much everyone else. Views into Maori culture are relentlessly respectful.

The titular Death doesn't occur until a fair way into the story, and most of what's going on is fairly clear by that point, though several important details are left for the reader to fill in. Greenwood carries on her recent habit of ending chapters with extracts from letters, though this time they have little to do with the main plot. A group of musicians provides some welcome changes of pace, and some passing references to the Attenbury Emeralds do no harm (though of course they're not consistent with Walsh's later expansion of Sayers' original hints).

This is a bit of a change of pace from recent books, with many long and leisurely conversations and relatively little action, and I think the series benefits from it. Followed by Murder in the Dark.

[Buy this at Amazon] and help support the blog. ["As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases."]

Previous in series: Queen of the Flowers | Series: Phryne Fisher | Next in series: Murder in the Dark

Comments on this post are now closed. If you have particular grounds for adding a late comment, comment on a more recent post quoting the URL of this one.

Tags 1920s 1930s 1940s 1950s 1960s 1970s 1980s 1990s 2000s 2010s 3d printing action advent of code aeronautics aikakirja anecdote animation anime army astronomy audio audio tech aviation base commerce battletech beer boardgaming book of the week bookmonth chain of command children chris chronicle church of no redeeming virtues cold war comedy computing contemporary cornish smuggler cosmic encounter coup covid-19 crime crystal cthulhu eternal cycling dead of winter doctor who documentary drama driving drone ecchi economics en garde espionage essen 2015 essen 2016 essen 2017 essen 2018 essen 2019 essen 2022 essen 2023 existential risk falklands war fandom fanfic fantasy feminism film firefly first world war flash point flight simulation food garmin drive gazebo genesys geocaching geodata gin gkp gurps gurps 101 gus harpoon historical history horror hugo 2014 hugo 2015 hugo 2016 hugo 2017 hugo 2018 hugo 2019 hugo 2020 hugo 2021 hugo 2022 hugo 2023 hugo 2024 hugo-nebula reread in brief avoid instrumented life javascript julian simpson julie enfield kickstarter kotlin learn to play leaving earth linux liquor lovecraftiana lua mecha men with beards mpd museum music mystery naval noir non-fiction one for the brow opera parody paul temple perl perl weekly challenge photography podcast politics postscript powers prediction privacy project woolsack pyracantha python quantum rail raku ranting raspberry pi reading reading boardgames social real life restaurant reviews romance rpg a day rpgs ruby rust scala science fiction scythe second world war security shipwreck simutrans smartphone south atlantic war squaddies stationery steampunk stuarts suburbia superheroes suspense television the resistance the weekly challenge thirsty meeples thriller tin soldier torg toys trailers travel type 26 type 31 type 45 vietnam war war wargaming weather wives and sweethearts writing about writing x-wing young adult
Special All book reviews, All film reviews
Produced by aikakirja v0.1