Title: Flying Too High (Phryne Fisher #2)
Author: Kerry Greenwood
Publisher: Allen and Unwin
Published: 1st June 2005
Synopsis: The second in the classic Phryne Fisher series from Kerry Greenwood, featuring the irresistible heroine Phryne. Whether she’s foiling kidnappers, seducing beautiful young men or simply deciding what to wear for dinner, Phryne handles everything with her inimitable panache and flair.
Danger, excitement and love – this is how the glamorous Phryne Fisher is determined to live her life in her second enticing adventure.
Walking the wings of a Tiger Moth plane in full flight ought to be enough excitement for most people, but not Phryne Fisher, amateur detective, woman of mystery, as delectable as the finest chocolate and as sharp as razor blades.
In this, the second Phryne Fisher mystery, the 1920s’ most talented and glamorous detective flies even higher, handling a murder, a kidnapping and the usual array of beautiful young men with style and consummate ease – and all before it’s time to adjourn to the Queenscliff Hotel for breakfast. Whether she’s flying planes, clearing a friend of homicide charges or saving a child from kidnapping, she handles everything with the same dash and élan with which she drives her red Hispano-Suiza.
The second in the fabulous Phryne Fisher series, Flying Too High, has Phryne caught up in two cases: the murder of a rich Melburnian and a kidnapping, so she enlists the help of Bert and Cec, the two communist cabbies who assist her with many of her needs. With her talent for getting into mischief, and her ability to outsmart criminals, she assists the police, often to the chagrin of Detecive-Inspector Benton, the fascination, and curiosity and worry at times of Detective-Inspector John “Jack” Robinson, and the horror of her maid, Dot. Using her wits and unconventional methods, Phryne not only helps the police, but is able to sometimes do what they cannot, and solves some cases for them. In Flying Too High, she solves the supposed murder of Mr McNaughton, and the kidnapping of a young child named Candida. She stands out from the crowd, and yet, can blend in, as well. Phryne is a detective whose talents go beyond the usual police work. She often finds herself in the wrong place, at the right time – or as Jack might say, at the wrong time.
In this second adventure, Phryne is determined to solve both cases, to bring ease to McNaughton’s family, give them answers and allow them to move on, and find Candida alive, and get her home to her family. Though her methods are unorthodox, they work, and the police are surprised and pleased, though also astounded at the ease with which she solves cases and brings in criminals they’ve been struggling to solve. But with Phryne on the case, things soon start to turn around, people start talking and when Candida’s kidnapping lands at the door of Phryne, and the parents do not wish to involve the police, it is up to Phryne to solve it alone, becoming embroiled in the search for a criminal the police have been after for a long time, which earns Phryne the respect of Detective-Inspector Jack Robinson, who marvels at how she managed it, yet still has warnings for her about the dangers.
Kerry Greenwood has created a character who fits into the time period she is a part of, but at the same time, flouts conventions and expectations, and steps outside of the confines that society and others may have thought were fitting for her gender, and place in society. Instead, Phrune manages to balance the role of society woman with that of detective quite nicely, and at times, uses her feminine ways to her advantage in several ways. She is a refreshing detective and quite fun – she is by no means wholly conventional in any of her relationships, and insists on calling everyone by their first name, and wishes for them to do the same – a habit that some, such as Dot, cannot break due to societal expectations.
In Flying Too High, Phryne is shown to be capable, and confident, yet flawed. As with all good characters, she stands out against the crowd, and the author has executed her perfectly.