Title: The Lady with the Gun Asks the Questions
Author: Kerry Greenwood
Genre: Crime, short stories
Publisher: Allen and Unwin
Published: 30th March 2021
Synopsis: The elegant Miss Phryne Fisher returns in this scintillating collection, which features four brand-new stories.
The Honourable Phryne Fisher – she of the Lulu bob, Cupid’s bow lips, diamante garters and pearl-handled pistol – is the 1920s’ most elegant and irrepressible sleuth.
Miss Phryne Fisher is up to her stunning green eyes in intriguing crime in each of these entertaining, fun and compulsively readable stories. With the ever-loyal Dot, the ingenious Mr Butler and all of Phryne’s friends and household, the action is as fast as Phryne’s wit and logic.
Awarded Sisters in Crime Lifetime Achievement Award 2013 AU; Awarded Ned Kelly Lifetime Achievement Award 2003 AU
Phryne Fisher is back – this time in a series of short stories taking place in the late 1920s, that align with the novels and at times, act as intermediaries between each novel. Each story is its own crime, and using the same characters, albeit on a much smaller scale, and not all in the same story, explores the world of 1928-1929 Melbourne from carnival people, to working girls, the upper classes and everyone in between. Faked deaths, girls being sold or forced into lives they don’t want, and many other crimes, Phryne and her crew, including Detective Inspector Jack Robinson are back.
This collection of about seventeen short stories, where each is its own delightful mystery, can be read as a companion to the Phryne Fisher novels – of which there are currently twenty-one, or as a delectable entrée that Phryne herself would approve of, before diving headfirst into the exciting novels that take us into the world of 1920s Melbourne, filled with crime and fashion, and contrasting the glitz of the upper classes with the stark poverty experienced by so many.
Kerry Greenwood explores universal themes surrounding gender and the expectations of gender – what women should do; what men should do and combines this with discussions about class and what happens when this becomes a factor. As someone who has experienced poverty and a life of money can expertly move between these worlds, and communicate with as many people as possible, whilst having an understanding of what they are going through.
Inequality as a theme in some stories shines through as a reminder that these issues have not fully been resolved, and still exist in some form in today’s world and society. Whilst crime is at the heart of these stories, or supposed crime in some cases, the social context cannot be ignored, and Kerry Greenwood shows a deep understanding of these issues as she portrays them through the lens of Phryne’s investigations. No single group is ever cast as the villain – rather, an individual, who can come from anywhere, will be the villain of the piece and as such, that person will get their inevitable comeuppance.
The stories are also peppered with a diverse cast of characters – race, class, gender, occupation – as well as several others, and I love the way Phryne deals with this. She treats people kindly, and fairly – and only judges those who have committed abominable wrongs and determines how she shall deal with the outcome – and in each story, this is different, and is always played out elegantly. This is an exciting new venture into Phryne’s world, and one that I thoroughly enjoyed.
Each story is just as skilfully and eloquently told as the novels, and Phryne and her world are exciting in both forms. I would love to see more short stories in this world, as the variety of narratives gives greater scope to give readers more of this world when read alongside the novels. This fun book ticks all the boxes and is certain to entertain new and current fans alike.