RogerBW's Blog

Death in Daylesford, Kerry Greenwood 24 May 2023

2020 historical detection, twenty-first in Greenwood's Phryne Fisher series (1920s flapper detective in Australia). Phryne and Dot go to a spa for shell-shocked soldiers in rural Victoria and deal with small-town crimes, while the rest of her found-family look into a mystery in Melbourne.

Well, that's a bit more like it. After seven years off, and I understand some serious illness, it seems that Greenwood is back on form (though there are some surprising inconsistencies with earlier books, such as the ages of the adopted children and what happened to Jane's long hair). I wasn't impressed by Murder and Mendelssohn, but this book once more has the sense of fun that's an important part of this kind of mystery.

Phryne had never seen the attraction of leaning on someone else's shoulder—after all, she had two of her own—and she found it trying in others. Whatever would these women do if they found themselves alone, tied up in a cellar and threatened with macabre mayhem? As a woman to whom this sort of thing had happened frequently, Phryne wondered what it would be like to look to somebody else for rescue.

Why are the potential beaux of the beautiful young barmaid being murdered? Are they killing each other off? And what does this have to do with the disappearances of women from the town? There are multiple things amiss, and Phryne will get to the bottom of all of them, and always with panache.

To me the only real mis-step is the B story back in Melbourne; it's very slight and fairly straightforward, and feels at times like padding. I do like the people and their characterisation, but as far as the pacing of the book is concerned this could have been a separate short story.

Not sure why anyone would start with this book, though apparently some people have. Start at the beginning; while this series started off with Phryne as a force of nature largely unaffected by what happened around her, she has become a more human character over the years.

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Previous in series: Murder and Mendelssohn | Series: Phryne Fisher | Next in series: Murder in Williamstown

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