RogerBW's Blog

Dead Man's Chest, Kerry Greenwood 29 November 2018

2010 historical detection, eighteenth in Greenwood's Phryne Fisher series (1920s flapper detective in Australia). Phryne is on holiday, with daughters and maid, in the seaside resort of Queenscliff, where the servants meant to come with her rented house have vanished (along with the furniture); and that's only the first mystery.

This does mean extensive domestic rearrangements; Phryne's daughter Ruth is happy to step up and be cook, which somehow doesn't consume all her time. Various other staff are acquired as Phryne uses her gifts for getting work out of people whom nobody else has been able to motivate. People soon start coming to her with their problems (particularly, alas, early in the morning), and soon she's dealing with hooligan boys, smugglers, a phantom hair snipper, a film being made on the beach, a slightly suspicious death (the weakest part of the story, with behaviour that makes no sense when it's all worked out), and pirate treasure. And of course the missing servants, who turn out to be surprisingly easy to find by accident the moment anyone bothers to try…

Unusually, perhaps uniquely, for a Phryne Fisher story, there's no sex (perhaps sensible in a small town with an efficient grapevine). A local Surrealist Club is an interesting contrast to the boring spiritualists of the previous book; they're just as consciously Different, but they at least know that they are being it and are getting some fun out of it. However, a mention of someone being put away in a "nice safe mental home" is perhaps less reassuring than it's meant to be to those of us who know something of the treatment of the criminally insane in the 1920s.

Everything goes along on its fairly predictable course, without only a little deduction, and lots of domestic detail. There's no dig into an Australian subculture here as some of the previous books have had (though Phryne in her element, as here, usually works better than when she's pushed out of it). There is very little here to surprise the series reader, and while you could start here and not be confused I'm not sure why anyone would bother.

Followed by Unnatural Habits.

[Buy this at Amazon] and help support the blog.

Add A Comment

Your Name
Your Email
Your Comment

Your submission will be ignored if any field is left blank, but your email address will not be displayed. Comments will be processed through markdown.

Search
Archive
Tags 1920s 1930s 1940s 1950s 1960s 1970s 1980s 1990s 2000s 2010s 3d printing action aeronautics aikakirja anecdote animation anime army astronomy audio tech base commerce battletech beer boardgaming bookmonth chain of command children chronicle church of no redeeming virtues cold war comedy computing contemporary cornish smuggler cosmic encounter coup cycling dead of winter doctor who documentary drama driving drone ecchi economics espionage essen 2015 essen 2016 essen 2017 essen 2018 existential risk falklands war fandom fantasy film firefly first world war flash point food garmin drive gazebo geodata gin gurps gurps 101 harpoon historical history horror hugo 2014 hugo 2015 hugo 2016 hugo 2017 hugo 2018 hugo-nebula reread in brief avoid instrumented life kickstarter learn to play leaving earth linux mecha museum mystery naval non-fiction one for the brow opera perl photography podcast politics powers prediction privacy project woolsack pyracantha quantum rail ranting raspberry pi reading reading boardgames social real life restaurant reviews romance rpg a day rpgs science fiction scythe second world war security shipwreck simutrans smartphone south atlantic war squaddies stationery steampunk stuarts suburbia superheroes suspense television the resistance thirsty meeples thriller tin soldier torg toys trailers travel 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