Friday, May 31, 2013
Three fun mysteries, a Flapper, a car, and a kitten
I’ve recently discovered a new more or less cozy series, and while it’s pure mind candy, it’s very good mind candy. The books are short, easy read, and sparkle with well done dialog, nicely drawn characters, and excellent, convoluted plots. The author is Kerry Greenwood, and the books feature Phryne Fisher, an Australian P.I. They are set in 1928/29, and have much the same charm as the Daisy Dalrymple series, set in England during the same time period. They are published by Tullamarine, Victoria, Australia : Bolina Audio ; Grand H. The books I’ll be talking about, more or less in one big, fluffy, bon bon are: Flying Too High, Murder on the Ballarat Train and Death at Victoria Dock. There may be more in this series, but if so, I haven’t found them, and while I found them charming and will certainly read any I happen across, they aren’t quite good enough to search for. Even while reading these books, I was strongly reminded of the Daisy Dalrymple books by Carolla Dunn, as I’ve already mentioned. The 2 series are by different authors. They take place across the world from one another, but they are set during the same time period, and their heroines, although very different in some ways, share an essential goodness, strong sense of justice, warmth, humor and courage. Had they met, I think they would quickly have become fast friends. Phryne is an exuberant, unapologetic libertine, who delights in her “lovely young men”, and has no scruples whatsoever in seducing and then enjoying them. If the reader can accept this, (and there is something so honest and innocent in her lascivious behavior that one almost must do so, as do the members of her extremely eclectic household), one can also quickly see that she is warm, caring, delightfully self reliant and independent, and courageous when it really counts. Phryne also has the habit of adopting (literally, in 2 cases) people and kittens, and she has the absolute loyalty of those who share her home, and those with whom she works, both on and very much off the police force. In each case, the mysteries are very engaging, and in some cases show the seamier side of life with understanding, empathy for life’s innocent victims, and outrage at certain injustices. Aside from all this, she is an aviatrix (as she firmly demonstrates in Flying Too High) and has other unlikely skills that come in handy on several occasions. Oh, and she has an absolutely wonderful bright red car, the only one of its kind in all of Australia, upon which both she and her chauffer/cum butler lavish affection verging on adoration. The writing is crisp and vivid, and one gets the feeling that there is a gentle smile, and sometimes a wink, just behind the words. Phryne may be a flapper, love fancy clothes, fast cars, dancing on airplane wings and lovely men, but there is absolutely nothing superficial at her core. She is bright, practical, tenacious, and more than willing to take risks with her own life to save a child or bring a murderer to swift justice.