November 19th, 2013

miss fisher

Book 207: Away with the Fairies by Kerry Greenwood

Book 207: Away with the Fairies (Phryne Fisher, #11).
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.
Midnight Beast

Book #62: The Truth by Terry Pratchett

Number of pages: 319

The 25th novel in the Discworld series features the appearance of a pair of assassins called Pin and Tulip and involves a murder that is blamed on the Patrician of Ankh Morpork, plus a kidnapped dog. Once again, all of the City Watch members make an appearance, but the events are seen through the eyes of William de Worde, who has accidentally created Discworld's first newspaper.

This book is largely a satire on the power of the press, and how journalists will stop at nothing for the sake of a good story, once again managing to effectively put a modern concept into the series' fantasy setting. There are a lot of jokes about newspaper headlines and people desperate to get their stories into the paper, plus there are the usual bizarre characters, including a vampire who is obsessed with using a flash camera, despite the fact that it frequently reduces him to a pile of dust. I noticed also that there was some influence from the Watergate Scandal (mostly the appearance of an informant called "Deep Bone".

I wouldn't count this among the best of the Discworld series; the main plot makes for a good mystery story, and everything is explained in the end, but it seemed a bit too thin; also, there were a few recycled jokes, including some including a demon personal organiser and Otto going "cold turkey" by not drinking blood (although the same gimmick was used with a vampire in the previous novel, The Fifth Elephant.

This novel felt a bit too long, but overall it was enjoyable. Also, for attentive readers, there is a really good pay off in the last few paragraphs.

Next book: The Yellow Birds (Kevin Powers)