Series: Phryne Fisher #1
Published by Poisoned Pen Press on April 18, 2007
Genres: Cozy Mystery
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The London season is in full fling at the end of the 1920s, but the Honourable Phryne Fisher—she of the green-gray eyes, diamant garters, and outfits that should not be sprung suddenly on those of nervous dispositions—is rapidly tiring of the tedium of arranging flowers, making polite conversations with retired colonels, and dancing with weak-chinned men. Instead, Phryne decides it might be rather amusing to try her hand at being a lady detective in Melbourne, Australia.
Almost immediately from the time she books into the Windsor Hotel, Phryne is embroiled in mystery: poisoned wives, cocaine smuggling rings, corrupt cops, and communism—not to mention erotic encounters with the beautiful Russian dancer, Sasha de Lisse—until her adventure reaches its steamy end in the Turkish baths of Little Lonsdale Street.
I’ve enjoyed a couple of the Miss Fisher mysteries, so of course, I wanted to read the books. For once, I’m starting a series at the beginning, which I think was a good choice. Cocaine Blues is a wonderful introduction to Phryne Fisher and her world.
Phryne Fisher is part of the English upper classes and has no desire to marry any time soon despite the best wishes of her parents and their friends. Phryne has the adventurous spirit of a modern woman. An aristocratic friend of the family happens to mention to Phryne that their daughter, Lydia, is having difficulties in Australia, marital problems with the inference that she might be being poisoned. They suggest that Phryne go to Australis to check on her. Phryne, currently at loose ends, take them up on the suggestion. in Australia, along with checking on Lydia, she takes in a desperate young woman as her maid, teams with a pair of cab drivers who are after a back-room abortionist, and helps a Russian dancer who is after a cocaine dealer.
Phryne is a wonderful character. She’s independent, smart, talented, stylish, and knows both poverty and wealth. How can you not like her? She can drive a car as good as race driver, fly an airplane, and shoot a pistol.
The story is both light and humorous but deals with serious subjects. The writing is intelligent and clever. The book is full of period details, close, language, food. I’m looking forward to reading more in the series.