An orchestral conductor has been found dead and Detective Inspector Jack Robinson needs the delightfully incisive and sophisticated Miss Fisher's assistance. Hugh Tregennis has been murdered in a most flamboyant mode by a killer with a point to prove. But how many killers is Phryne really stalking?
At the same time, the dark curls and disdainful air of mathematician and code-breaker Rupert Sheffield are taking Melbourne by storm. They've certainly taken the heart of Phryne's old friend from the trenches of WWI, John Wilson. Phryne recognises Sheffield as a man who attracts danger and is determined to protect John from harm. While Mendelssohn's 'Elijah,' memories of the Great War, and the science of deduction ring in her head, Phryne's past must also play its part as MI6 become involved in the tangled web of murders.
©2013 Copyright © Kerry Greenwood 2013. (P)2013 Bolinda Publishing Pty Ltd, 2013
"Greenwood's strength lies in her ability to create characters that are wholly satisfying: the bad guys are bad, and the good guys are great." (Vogue)
I didn't know it was possible for one person to feel so polarised about something. But I am!
Usually it requires two individuals of opposite opinions to polarise a subject, but somehow, after a couple of hours consideration I've decided I have very dichotomous views about this book. I loved some aspects and really quite disliked others. If I'm brutally honest, if this were a first book in a series, rather than the 20th (and therefore at a stage where I already have a deep connection with the characters) I'm not 100% certain I would have continued the series. I think this book is not a good introduction to Phryne for non-fans, and deviates a little from the perfected formula enough to perturb her loyal fans. It certainly won't make me throw down my Phryne Fisher Fan Club membership card in disgust, but it didn't make me feel like I needed to press "Play Again" as almost every other Phryne novel did.
On the one hand I loved the return of Phryne, as I knew I would. And Phryne was as she ever was; fun and sassy, and meddlesome in her very enjoyable way, and Stephanie Daniel's narration was stellar as always. I also enjoyed the Sherlock-ian story line. By its very nature, a Sherlock theme is not original, but Kerry does a wonderful job of portraying a Sherlock as SHE imagines him (fans of the BBCs Sherlock will have no trouble imagining BC in the role of Rupert). And I think her style of book really has been begging for the opportunity to take a dig at the Sherlock method, so I enjoyed this aspect of the novel immensely. I also thought that the back story of the things Phryne got up to during the war were great, if a little "out of the blue".
Regarding the the bits I did not enjoy (as much): I, like many other readers, was disappointed with the increase in the detailed sex scenes, scenes that I only appreciate listening to when they add to the context of the story. As many of the scenes were filler, (likewise the increase in Phryne's inner dialogue regarding handsome men she'd like to "tumble") I found these scenes to detract from the story rather than add to it. Don't get me wrong - Kerry manages to sound more tasteful than any other author I've read who includes these sorts of scenes, but even done tastefully it didn't interest me. All that said - one presumes that she is under pressure from publishers to include/increase this sort of content as there has a been a HUGE surge in adult content books in the last 2 years, and I suppose the publishers must feel that these sorts of scenes have become necessary to maintain sales, because Kerry has never furnished her novels with such a quantity of "romance" before. In reality, accumulated they account for less than 30 minutes of an 11.5 hour story, so not really voluminous, just more than necessary.
The mystery... well, the mystery was much more the sideline story here than the driving plot line. After I got over waiting for a cracker mystery to unfold, and simply sat back to enjoy the character/Sherlock story line, I enjoyed the book a lot more. In this case, the mystery is just like starch, or emulsifiers in chocolate - necessary to bind the story as a whole and bulk it up a bit, but not really important to your enjoyment of the book. If you go in with low mystery expectations, and simply aim to enjoy the characters you'll feel less disappointed with this book.
On a final note, in a previous review for Unnatural Habits I mentioned that I thought Kerry had done a fantastic job of maintaining the character of Phryne, and she still portrayed a wonderful Phryne in this novel (if more sexy) - for me I felt that this book demonstrated a character change in another key character, and one wonders if a little of the TV show portrayal of said character has rubbed off on Kerry and altered her representation of them? After all, she writes for the TV show as well, so such a change would be understandable. I won't say any more to bias you, listen and see for yourself. After all, it is still a Phryne novel, still an enjoyable listen, and I still recommend it, despite the negative aspects commented here.
I am majorly unimpressed with the increasing quality and quantity of sex scenes in this series. If the purpose of the series is to provide well-written, well-plotted erudite novels along the lines of a Dorothy Sayers, I see no plot furtherance from opening the bedroom door so often and in such excruciating detail.
I also agree with the prior reviewer that there wasn't much in the way of suspense in regard to the mystery in this offering. I, too, realized early on who the murderer was, and didn't find the characterization of the person to be very compelling, either emotionally or mentally. During the build-up, the individual was more of a cypher or icon - a cardboard cutout - than a flesh-and-blood person. This remained true even after the great reveal of motive.
I have listened to all of Phryne's books, and Miss Daniels gives her usual sterling performance in this book.
Greenwood still describes with her usual élan Phryne's sets, clothing, and food. In addition, I liked the new characters, and had a good deal of empathy for them. Greenwood's hard work in research shows up quite clearly, and her prose is still lucid and lyrical.
I'm just tired of all the emphasis on both Phryne's sex life and the sex life, whether heterosexual or homosexual, of the others. I am reading these books for insight into those who survived the War and their accommodations to be able to function in the world after that horror, for the mystery, for the beauty that those with money could provide for themselves at that time in history, and the history of Australia. I genuinely like Miss Greenwood's characters, old and new, and generally enjoy her plots. I enjoy the comedy of manners, the sets, the clothes, and the food which form a continuing thread through all of these novels.
Strong characters in all genres. and narrators who don't ham it up.
Something extra went into the 20th Phryne Fisher novel and it was one of the best novels yet. The homosexual love (not Phryne) was a bit more than i wanted, but was in line with the plot. (I don't care what consenting adults like, but i don't need to hear about the kissing!) My previous favorite was Murder in Montparnasse, so i much like the inclusion of world war 1 experiences in the development of the Phryne we know in 1930s Australia.
Stephanie does a multitude of character voices very well.
rambunctiously soft spoken.
For some reason Kerry Greenwood has been channeling Tennessee Williams and Arthur Conan Doyle in this attempt to get Sherlock homes and Watson together as she had always envisioned in this thinly veiled attempt she explains this at the end of the book with frankly I enjoyed more than this particulate tale ,The names have been changed to protect the innocent but I found it indulgent and tiring the padding around this affair was horrible ,Stephanie (cant carry a tune in a bucket) Daniel sings if you have been on the receiving end of this I don't need to say anymore .I love these books but this was just too ,to much .
An excellent narrator. She made the book more interesting than it would have been to read in print copy.
At least half the singing and song lyrics.
This book dragged for me. The descriptions of the singing and the music were too long and wordy. There was much less action than in any of the other Phryne Fisher mysteries and it was not as light hearted as the others in the series. Altogether less enjoyable.
I'm so glad I took a gamble on this one. Some of the reviews were not favorable, and I really don't know why. The "gay sex scene" some reviewers describe is really quite short and not integral to the story, so it can be skipped if it is that bothersome, and for a story about a choir, there is actually less singing by the narrator than other Phryne books.
The mystery is compelling and all the usual characters are present. Highly recommended!
Phryne and her regular cast of characters are wonderfully drawn, and it is always a delight to see each of them pop up and contribute their own unique traits, skills and personalities to her stories.
The setting of time and place is fun, and I especially appreciate the fact that it affords Ms. Greenwood ample opportunity to address social issues of the day... many of which remain as relevant as ever today!
This story was rich with layers, more complex... with competing plots... and more characters to keep track of than usual. I especially enjoyed the introduction and development of some key characters specific to this story and found the conclusion of the various threads very satisfying.
If you, as I, are not very familiar with the choral works it can be a little overwhelming and even tedious at times. While I generally find Ms. Daniels narration to be quite good at capturing the host of characters, I found her reading of the lyrics and singing rather grating at times. However, an admirable job overall, and a credit well spent!
I have enjoyed the Phryne series and Stephanie's reading of the character until this book.
The murderer became apparent as soon as the first murder happened and I spent the rest of the book waiting for Phryne to get out of bed, for the choral readings and awful singing to stop, and for a true plot to emerge. Very disappointing.
Give it a real plot. If it must be about Mendelssohn choral music, put in a soundtrack rather than having Stephanie read or sing the lyrics. Most unenjoyable. Make it clear that this is a soft porn in the bosom of the family book -- not really much of a mystery.
Yes. I felt sorry for the reader -- a lot of dreary choral reading to slog through.
It dealt with two important social issues: everyone deserves to be loved, and the terrible effects of war and the resulting PTSD. Also, it seemed to say that if you adopt children they will all be gifted and talented.
Please get Phryne out of bed and back to work on a real intriguing murder mystery. If there must be music, then give it a soundtrack of the real thing. And if Mendelssohn was anything more than alliteration in the title then include him in the historical aspects of the story, also.
Classics, history, historical fiction, marketing, Napoleonic stuff and of course 'Boys own Adventure'. This is my bent. Occasional self help as well.
This story starts off with the usual suspects. A strange murder that turns out to be only half the murder and then some English know-it-all with his gay potential boy friend turns up. Of course Phryne new him back in the war, where not only did she perform miracles on the battlefield saving lives as an ambulance driver but later on she became a spy. AS IF! Not only can Phryne speak French, perform marshal arts like a pro and shoot a pistol with such accuracy she is rich, confident and a perfect single parent. Oh, and a great lover. This series has gone off the tracks. Did I mention Phryne can also sing perfectly in a choir? I gave up after she executes the bad guy and doesn't even have any grief about it. Is she psychotic? Anyway she uncovers the murder, cleans up the streets of Melbourne and dispatches the bad guys with such panache you think this doesn't even happen in bad 80s TV cop shows. Not happy with this book and not looking forward to the last one in the series but since I own it I will listen to it especially as I believe it is Stephanie Daniels last as she who did such an excellent job on narrating these books died March 2014 from cancer. I will miss her voice and exceptional skill in performing these stories.
This book is rather long for the series but it didn't drag. I enjoyed the insight into the world of semi-professional singing. As always, good story and the supporting cast is perfect!
"Lost the story line?"
A little less on the homosexual love story (I found it a little tedious after a while) a better explanation on why one of the main docklands "kingpins" wanted to kill one of them (we are told) but not until the main event. When did Phyrne become involved in MI6 and then there was the add on story about the choir (which is where the Mendelssohn came in for the title) but the solution finished so fast you went "is that it" . I was disappointed Ms Greenwood is usually better than this.
Maybe but only if the were a real Phyrne fan otherwise no
Phyrne Fisher, Dot, Jack and Cec & Bert
Yes to buy another audio book by Kerry greenwood just to make sure she can still write a good story
"Terrible narration, fabulous Phryne."
Enjoyable story, pity about the narration . Why one would cast a voice who is a) not only English but incapable of anything approaching an Australian accent, and b) tone deaf , for a story about Mendelssohn set in Australia and, is beyond me.Her pacing was repetitive, her attempts at singing painful and her poetry reading insensitive. The story is a lovely Phryne Fisher mystery. Lots of feminism, lots of laughs. possibly it was drawn out a little too long, but enjoyable, despite the atrocious narration.
"Music & Madness in 1920s Melbourne"
Lin is in Hong Kong so Phryne turns to the highly wrought milieu of a semiprofessional choir for amusement, along the way her adventure considers PTSD, the correct way to conduct Mendelssohn and an homage to John Watson & Sherlock Holmes. Stephanie Daniels is, as always, a superb reader.
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