Title: Death in Daylesford (Phryne Fisher #21)
Author: Kerry Greenwood
Genre: Historical Fiction/Crime
Publisher: Allen and Unwin
Published: 3rd November 2020
Synopsis: Surrounded by secrets, great and small, the formidable Miss Phryne Fisher returns to vanquish injustice.
Surrounded by secrets, great and small, the formidable Miss Phryne Fisher returns to vanquish injustice.
When a mysterious invitation arrives for Miss Phryne Fisher from an unknown Captain Herbert Spencer, Phryne’s curiosity is excited. Spencer runs a retreat in Victoria’s spa country for shell-shocked soldiers of the First World War. It’s a cause after Phryne’s own heart but what could Spencer want from her?
Phryne and the faithful Dot view their spa sojourn as a short holiday but are quickly thrown in the midst of disturbing Highland gatherings, disappearing women, murder and the mystery of the Temperance Hotel.
Meanwhile, Cec, Bert and Tinker find a young woman floating face down in the harbour, dead. Tinker, with Jane and Ruth, Phryne’s resilient adopted daughters, together decide to solve what appears to be a heinous crime.
Disappearances, murder, bombs, booby-traps and strange goings-on land Miss Phryne Fisher right in the middle of her most exciting adventure.
Phryne Fisher is back – in her twenty-first adventure, published seven years after the last book. We’re into 1929, the year the world was plunged into the Great Depression, but Phryne’s latest adventure takes place early in 1929. As Phryne and Dot head off to a spa in the Victorian countryside, Jack is seconded to a special taskforce, leaving poor Hugh to deal with another detective.
At the spa, Phryne and Dot are embroiled in a series of deaths and disappearances linked to a Highland Gathering, whilst back in Melbourne, Hugh, thwarted by Jack’s temporary replacement, enlists Ruth and Jane to help him find out what happened to their classmate, Claire. Crime abounds in 1929 Victoria, and these two mysteries have Phryne and her friends busy during the summer days.
There’s something delightful about being back in Phryne’s world – the familiar characters and settings that are so uniquely Australian that returning to this world is like being home. Crime fiction is popular in Australia, and we have so many wonderful crime writers and series, that it seems an almost insurmountable task to read them all – so I stick to a few that I know I love like Phryne Fisher, and Rowland Sinclair, and books written by Australian women in particular.
This adventure sees two mysteries being investigated, each with their own strands of interest and intrigue. Each is their own separate story – one might expect that separate strands of a story might eventually come together, and the cases could have a common link. Yet in this one, they are separate and unique, and contribute great interest, as each pause in one case to explore the other drives the reader forward to find out the resolution to each one, encapsulated in one book that is an extension of the series, but also its own story, giving new readers enough information to dive in with this new book, but also, is perfect for long-time readers of the series to dive right in, and enjoy a new Phryne adventure!
Murder and mayhem abounds in this new Phryne Fisher mystery, and there is no doubt that Phryne is back at her best, and the world she inhabits is as rich as the other books – her lavish clothing, her driving and sharp awareness of what it is like to be poor and experience a wide array of things that allows her to communicate across classes and divides. Her smarts and wits will be her best asset when it comes to dealing with some people, whilst it is her compassion that endears her to so many others.
Death in Daylesford is a perfect addition to the series – it fits in well with what has come before, and with any books that might come after. This is a quintessential Australian story, filled with Australianness in the plot, characters and settings. It evokes a sense of the interwar period, and the years before the abdication that saw a new royal line take the throne. It touches on this, perhaps with the cheeky knowledge that the modern reader knows the outcome of the years leading up to the war for the English royal family, and Europe – leading into World War Two. These little titbits of information are cleverly inserted, with characters referencing a future they do not know will come, but that we know as our history.
A wonderful addition to a fabulous series, and I hope that fans new and old will find it just as enjoyable as the previous books.