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Book 135: Unnatural Habits by Kerry Greenwood

Book 135: Unnatural Habits (Phryne Fisher #19).
Author: Kerry Greenwood, 2012.
Genre: Period Fiction. 1920s Australia. Crime Fiction. Mystery. GLBT themes.
Other Details: ebook. 249 pages/ Unabridged Audio (9 hours, 54 mins). Read by Stephanie Daniel.

1929: Girls are going missing in Melbourne. Little, pretty, golden haired girls. And not just pretty. Three of them are pregnant, poor girls from the harsh confines of the Magdalene Laundry. People are getting nervous. Polly Kettle, a pushy, self important Girl Reporter with ambition and no sense of self preservation, decides to investigate and promptly goes missing herself. It’s time for Phryne and Dot to put a stop to this and find Polly Kettle before something quite irreparable happens to all of them. It’s all piracy and dark cellars, convents and plots, murder and mystery …. and Phryne finally finds out if it’s true that blondes have more fun. - synopsis from Poisoned Pen Press website.

This proved to be another winner in this constantly excellent series. Still unlike many in the series I cannot class it as a 'cosy mystery' given that the plot involved the kidnapping of young girls for nefarious ends as well as the horrific conditions inside the Magdalene Laundry, a place that did actually exist. This part of the story obviously upset Kerry Greenwood as they do her fictional detective. It forms part of the social aspects of the story and proves a powerful condemnation of the attitudes of the time. In her author's notes Greenwood supplies some on-line sources of testimonies about the Laundry. Apparently two of the brothels that appear in the story also did exist, including the wonderfully named Blue Cat Club, which was part of the very secretive gay subculture of the day.

I am continuing my practice of listening to the series on audio and also reading the ebook edition at the end of the week. I have found that there are always a few lines swallowed up when driving, especially in this weather when windows are wound down due to heat. I note that Phryne seems to be now calling her rag-taggle group of friends, companions, and her adopted children as her minions. I find it amusing and keep thinking of the minions of Despicable Me.
Tags: audio book, crime fiction, mystery, period fiction (20th century)
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