#Book Bingo 2018 is a collaboration challenge I am completing with my favourite blogger, Theresa Smith Writes. How does it work? We have devised our own personalised book bingo card game. Twice a month, on the first and third Saturday of the month, Theresa and I will complete a book review post, outlining our respective bingo card entries. The book bingo card contains a total of 25 squares, which we will complete over the course of the year. To accommodate all the squares, we will be posting additional entries in the months of March and June, this will ensure that we stay on track to complete the book bingo game by December. To keep things interesting for ourselves and those following along with us, the choice of bingo square to be covered will be entirely down to us. We invite you to join us in this fun book related challenge, by linking your bingo card entries in the comments section of this post or by visiting Theresa Smith Writes.
My second #Book Bingo 2018 entry is ‘A book with a mystery’. I have selected to read and review the first title in Australian author Kerry Greenwood’s popular Miss Phryne Fisher Mysteries series, Cocaine Blues. This novel contains more than one mystery for the super sleuth Miss Fisher to investigate and it helped to get me hooked on the television series based on the books.
The first of Phryne’s adventures from Australia’s most elegant and irrepressible sleuth.
The London season is in full fling at the end of the 1920s, but the Honourable Phryne Fisher – she of the green-grey 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.
Kerry Greenwood is a prolific Australian author that I was yet to explore until I read her first Phryne Fisher series book, Cocaine Blues. This great Australian mystery based novel also provided me with the opportunity to mark off a square on the personalised book bingo I am completing this year. Specifically, Cocaine Blues satisfies the book bingo category of ‘a book with a mystery’. Cocaine Blues is a fantastic romp which entertained me for the entire length of time I spent with this book.
Kerry Greenwood’s first outing with her enigmatic female lead and sleuth, Miss Phryne Fisher, begins in the height of the 1920’s. In London, Phryne is bored with the endless and tedious parties she attends, as well as dreary company to match. When Phryne foils a plan to steal some jewellery at a party she is a guest for, her aptitude for solving a good old-fashioned mystery catches the eye of a friend. An offer to embark to Australia to continue her successful detective work soon ensues. After setting foot on Australia’s shores, Phryne quickly gets caught up in number of cases. These range from a poisoning, to cracking a cocaine ring and dealing with the corruption present in Australia’s back streets. All the while, Phryne fits in a romance with a dashing Russian dancer, in between her detective capers.
Phryne Fisher, as a character there is so much to say about this one-of-a-kind super sleuth! My initial impression of Phryne was that she is sassy, independent, intelligent and enthusiastic. She also has her heart in the right place and will go to great lengths to help others, in any shape or form. As the book progressed she seemed to grow on me more and more.
As much as I loved the divine Miss Phryne Fisher, I also developed a soft spot for her entourage. Phryne’s team is compiled in this pivotal first novel. First, Phryne gains ladies maid Dot. Dot is a wonderfully drawn character and works as a support system to Phryne. Then, Phryne recruits Bert and Cec, best mates and cab driving extraordinaires, with a few other skills under their belt, who both bring much to the fold. While Phryne’s friendship with Doctor MacMillan gives us a glimpse of what is to come for the women of Australia who are trying to break free from gender restrictions.
Greenwood pays perfect homage to the period in which her novel is set. I felt a strong sense of place in both her locales of 1920’s London and Australia. Greenwood’s dialogue, social norms and references to the fashions of the day more than adequately reflect the era in which her novel is set. While reading this novel, I felt like I had stepped into a 1920’s time warp. It was a wonderful experience!
The crime mystery aspect of the novel, which is the main theme of this book, offers the reader a great puzzle or two to solve. Cocaine Blues defines escapist fiction and it is accompanied by some snappy writing indeed. It kept me busy for an afternoon or so as I got caught up in Phryne’s investigations. Although this is a fun romp style mystery, there are some deeper issues underneath the facade. These include illegal abortion operations, drugs rings and corruption in high society, which are all brought to the forefront by the talented Ms Kerry Greenwood.
Cocaine Blues is a superb first edition to an enduring series, featuring the iconic leading lady, Miss Phryne Fisher. I hope to discover much more of this series in the not too distant future. In the meantime, I have indulging in the television series adaptation of Greenwood’s novels, via my Netflix subscription. It is currently my guilty pleasure!
Cocaine Blues by Kerry Greenwood was first published in 1989. Details on how to purchase the book can be found here.
Cocaine Blues is book #9 of the Australian Women Writers Challenge