RogerBW's Blog

The Green Mill Murder, Kerry Greenwood 03 October 2016

1993 historical detection, fifth in Greenwood's Phryne Fisher series (1920s flapper detective in Australia). During a dance competition at the Green Mill, a figure slumps to the ground. Was he the target of his attacker – or was it Phryne? And why has her partner for the evening bolted?

Plus point: homosexual characters treated even-handedly, bearing in mind the legal situation of the era. Minus point: they're desperately stereotyped, a weepy interior decorator and two rough outdoorsy women. There's also lots of infodumping on jazz: sure, we need background, and research-fests can be fun to read, but it shouldn't feel like an infodump.

This is the only book to make major mention of Phryne's talent for aviation (perhaps Greenwood thought it was an ability too far even for this perfect heroine), as she flies to a remote settlement in search of a missing brother. This section feels less like a lecture, though it may be just that I'm already familiar with the subject matter. (And the actual flying sequences are lyrical in the extreme.)

A disappointing element here is that Phryne lets a murderer go: granted, for reasons which seem sufficient to her, but I did rather fall out of willingness to go along with the story at that point. (And I'm very surprised her friends in the police are willing to keep talking to her.) The focus isn't really on the mystery, but the deductive aspects of the story are stronger than usual and the whole thing holds together pretty well.

Be warned that some copies of the 2007 Poisoned Pen Press edition are missing the final chapter. Followed by Blood and Circuses.

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