Yes, this review has come very quickly after the last one, but I read this book superfast (it would be great for a plane trip); all it took was two train rides, two baths and an hour or so one lazy afternoon.
I love the Phryne Fisher series. In case you aren’t familiar with her, Phryne is a rather wealthy
“Hon” who, bored with high society, and not really interested in joining the Bright Young Things,
becomes a private detective to keep herself busy.
And she’s very good at it.
With a sharp wit, an even sharper mind, expensive tastes and an eye for the young men, she wonderfully never worries about her weight, or has self-esteem issues, or fusses about whether her “gentleman callers” are really that into her — all of those things that so many writers seem to think that all female characters should do. She’s a bloody breath of fresh air.
But I don’t just love Phryne herself. I love her staff, her “bijou” St Kilda house, her Hispano-Suiza sports car and her evening wear. I love the descriptions of Melbourne in the 1920s. I love the food. I love the booze. Mmm, booze.
Anyway, I normally devour book in this series, but I had hesitated getting this particular title, as short stories don’t often agree with me. However, I caved after finding it at the Fed Square second-hand book market. I decided it was a sign, since you can never find Kerry Greenwood books second hand (more than one shop owner has told me it means she’s doing something right, since people want to keep the books, but it’s frustrating). Amusingly, it includes a foreword that included the suggestion that if readers don’t enjoy the book, to donate it to the nearest op shop. I expect that may be just what the previous owner did; but their loss is my gain!
As explained in the foreword, the book’s a “treasury” of short stories that Greenwood originally wrote to try out characters and situations, and other tidbits, like an interview with Phryne and illustration pages of things like her favourite shoes and hats; most of it’s actually reminiscent of the sorts of exercises that writers are told to do (by courses and books on the craft of writing, not by, say, their mums), to get to know their characters — imagine the contents of their handbag, write a few pages imagining how the celebrate Christmas, etc. But it didn’t feel like exercises, it felt like Greenwood was sharing the little things that she knows about Phryne that we don’t. It was fun.
It also includes era-appropriate recipes (for food and cocktails) and while I wish it had included Mr Butler’s top-secret cocktail recipe, but still. Lovers of Phryne definitely shouldn’t skip it.
And I’m totally planning to try out the recipes (and will probably post pictures of the final products).