Books & Literature

Book Review: Death in Daylesford, by Kerry Greenwood

CRIME: Surrounded by secrets, great and small, the formidable Miss Phryne Fisher returns to vanquish injustice.

If you are a fan of Miss Fisher, Greenwood has created another long-awaited story!

Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries is a favourite television series for many Australians. It has been aired in over 100 countries and a feature film and spin-off series have also been made. It is probably safe to say the main character, Phryne Fisher, is a name known to many. Luckily for her fans, Greenwood has just released her eagerly awaited next novel. Greenwood is the author of more than fifty novels and this new chapter in the life of Miss Fisher has been a long time coming; the last mystery being published in 2013.

Death in Daylesford follows the exploits of Phryne as she travels to the countryside town of Daylesford. An invitation arrives in the post from previously unknown Captain Herbert Spencer. He runs a retreat in Victoria’s spa country for shell-shocked soldiers of WW1. Phryne Fisher, always intrigued by a good mystery, heads to Daylesford. Hoping for a quiet holiday, she is soon embroiled in secrets and murder. Accompanied by her very beige companion Dot, Phryne sets about discovering these long-held secrets and mysteries surrounding the local towns and highland.

Meanwhile in Melbourne, policeman Hugh Collins, along with Tinker, Jane and Ruth (Phryne’s adopted daughters) try to find out what happened to one of their school friends who has been found dead floating in the harbour. This gives the reader two mysteries for the price of one!

Those who enjoy the character of Phryne’s love interest, Inspector Jack Robinson, will be disappointed that he is not an integral part of this book, but Phryne is nonetheless never short of suitors.

If you are a fan of scary, gruesome murder mysteries, this may not be for you. Greenwoods stories are of a gentler nature. No violent, bloody scenes. Phryne is always immaculately dressed, rarely shocked by anything and loves a good mystery. Her moral compass is very different to that of most people in the 1920s.

Reading the books after watching the TV series will help the reader see the characters, clothes, homes, etc as they were in the 1920s, although some die-hard fans may only wish to see Phryne as they have created her in their own mind. Whichever way you feel, this new book in the beloved series will be a welcome addition to your library. Many may prefer to just watch Phryne Fisher on the screen where you are able to sit back and see what is happening rather than read about it and use your own imagination. But reading the stories does add another dimension.

If you are new to the world of Miss Fisher, be ready for a gentle romp in every sense of the word. Greenwood has created well-rounded characters, and sets the scenes beautifully. Descriptions of Phryne’s elegant attire are detailed, and her decadence is disarming. The mysteries are detailed and the reader is kept guessing until the very end.

The text is written in the way people would have spoken 100 years ago and some words may be unfamiliar. It was a time of excess for many after the war but also a time of healing. As well as a good story, it is a lovely insight into post WW1 in Australia.

Reviewed by Sue Mauger

Distributed by: Allen & Unwin
Released: November 2020
RRP: $29.99

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