Phryne Fisher is luxuriating about her home when she is called into action by her favourite policeman, Detective Inspector Jack Robinson: an orchestral conductor has been killed, a musical score stuffed down his throat. It’s a touch dramatic, and Phryne is on board to find out what happened, and, well, if she must join the youthful, volatile and attractive choir, then so be it. During all this, a beloved old friend from the war appears in town, shadowing a ridiculously handsome and emotionally deficient mathematician with whom he is hopelessly besotted—and who is in grave peril. In all, it is exactly the kind of mess Phryne lives to tangle herself in.
A few times in my life I have had the pleasure of going to a fancy restaurant for a degustation. Hours are spent poring over the tiniest of dishes, all of which are immaculate in creation and decadent on the tongue. No expense is spared and the waitpeople will refill anything, even the bread basket, and treat you like you are royalty and not some bogan from the suburbs who is unused to thirteen courses, instead more often indulging in two (a bowl of spaghetti accompanied by only the tappiest of water.)
Reading Phryne Fisher is like a degustation menu at Melbourne’s fanciest restaurant. Everything is luxurious, delicious, and sensual. Immersing yourself in Miss Fisher’s world, full of espionage, choristers, murder, expensive wines, and lovers, is a true delight. It’s been a while since I last read a Miss Fisher book, but now I remember exactly why I loved the last one. Sure, people are murdered and Melbourne in 1929 was just as unpleasant and occasionally scungy as you imagine, but while you have Phryne swanning about the place in silk undergarments, knowing all the right people, concocting the most outrageous of plans and kicking bad guys square in the nuts, it’s difficult not to fall completely under her spell. It is not without fault—sometimes the book lingers on uninteresting moments, and I did get a little tired of Phryne’s virtually supernatural flawlessness in both looks and talent in far too many fields, and having to hear about her beauty from everyone every second page (yes yes, she’s super hot and smells divine, we get it)—but I derived far too much pleasure from reading this to be truly concerned. Such fun.