Author: Kerry Greenwood, 2001.
Genre: Period Fiction. 1920s Australia. Crime Fiction. Cozy Mystery.
Other Details: Unabridged Audiobook (8 hrs, 5 mins). Read by Stephanie Daniel.
It’s the 1920s in Melbourne and Phryne is asked to investigate the puzzling death of a famous author and illustrator of fairy stories. To do so, Phryne takes a job within the women’s magazine that employed the victim and finds herself enmeshed in her colleagues’ deceptions. But while Phryne is learning the ins and outs of magazine publishing first hand, her personal life is thrown into chaos. Impatient for her lover Lin Chung’s imminent return from a silk-buying expedition to China, she instead receives an unusual summons from Lin Chung’s family followed by a series of mysterious assaults and warnings. - synopsis from Poisoned Pen Press website.
In this outing Phryne is asked by Detective Inspector Jack Robinson to assist his investigation into the death of the writer Miss Lavender by looking over her rather overly feminine apartment and asking discreet questions of her co-workers and neighbours. His chief is worried that when the press learns of her death that there will be a scandal as Miss Lavender had told the police she felt she was being watched and someone was threatening her life. Jack admits that he didn't take her claims seriously as he felt she had "a few kangaroos loose in the top paddock".
I was amused by Phryne's initial response to the décor of Miss Lavender's flat: fairies everywhere, yes, admitted. More pink than the mind could comfortably cope with. Ever inventive in her sleuthing techniques Phryne takes a temporary job at Women's Choice, producing the magazine's fashion notes. In this volume Phryne's maid and companion, Dot, also takes on some sleuthing and finds she enjoys it very much even if aspects are distressing.
The sub-plot of Lin Chung's disappearance during a silk buying trip to troubled China is a darker, more violent strand to the story. Greenwood handles both the playful and darker aspects of the plot with her usual skill. I was surprised how different the TV adaptation of this novel was. Still that is what makes the novels such a pleasure even after watching the TV episodes.
As with all in this series Away with the Fairies proved great entertainment especially as Greenwood always writes with her tongue firmly in cheek sending up the Golden Age Detective story.