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 can't write a short review to save myself! Authors put a lot of effort in their books, so a 3 line review can't do justice to my thoughts
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.
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.
Bookseller, book blogger, librarian, actress, and artist.
Yes. I love Stephanie Daniel's narration. I think it provides an excellent facet to an already wonderful story. This is not my favorite of the Phryne Fisher books, but it is very much worthy of its esteemed company.
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.
I have read all the other Phryne Fisher books and enjoyed them all. This one is not worth the time as it is not a mystery(I knew who did it before it was done) and most importantly, it seems to be a very poor attempt to be a romance tale for the 21st century. Yuck. If I wanted a romance I would have picked up a Barbara Cartland or a Danielle Steele. If you want a mystery or a puzzle give this one a very wide berth.
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!
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.
Yes, I'm normally a huge fan.
Unfortunately I have to agree with many of the other criticisms of this story. The basic plot was good, but too long and drawn out. The frequent and gratuitous sexual scenes were very distracting. I felt that this novel was as much about promoting the gay lifestyle as it was solving a murder. For Phryne to sleep with a bi sexual man, even an old dear friend, did not add to the story. I much prefer Phyne's respectful tolerance of lifestyles different from her own, rather than looking like she's pushing an agenda. Her respectful tolerance trait is common in her other novels.
very talented narrator, not a sololist
I almost never write negative reviews, I just keep my opinions to myself. But being that the Phryne Fisher Murder series is my all time favorite series, I felt the need to speak up.
I'd like to see Ms Greenwood refocus on plot development and leave frequent sexual scenes to the romance writers. In the tv series, the way the sexual tension is developed and romantic scenes portrayed is very tasteful and appealing to me. If singing is required, dub in talented soloists.
Absolutely! After all a Phryne Fisher story is always a good read.
Though she does sing in this it certainly is not as grating as it was in a previous book....however there is this one song! I am not a musician and what do I know about singing!
Hmm the meeting of two males as they explored each other raised my eyebrows not exactly a moving moment.
When Phryne shoots a nasty piece of work it seems so matter of fact that it's over before it's begun. The description and knowledge of Menelssohns music was very interesting to learn about and weaving it through the choir was an excellent idea. My only other thought was - is Phryne ever bad at anything?
Yes. The dragging along, over descriptions of the choir, what they sung, how they sang and general chatter of nothing they all seemed to engage in constantly.
Constant descriptions of her and her friend's sex lives. Boring.
Another Kerry Greenwood story starring Phryne Fisher that I hope will be more interesting along the lines of previous ones that I've listened to.
Wonderful Narrator. Dull story.
Wish for a better Phyrne Fisher novel next time. I really enjoy the series but this one is a drawn out dud.
Sex if fine. Descriptions of sex are fine. Having a book supposedly about a mystery constantly refer to someone's sex life does not an interesting read make.
"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
"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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