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Urn Burial

A Phryne Fisher Mystery
Narrated by: Stephanie Daniel
Series: Phryne Fisher, Book 8
Length: 6 hrs and 28 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (719 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

Phryne Fisher, scented and surprisingly ruthless, is not one to let sleuthing a horrific crime get in the way of an elegant dalliance.

The redoubtable Phryne Fisher is holidaying at Cave House, a Gothic mansion in the heart of the Victorian mountain country.

But the peaceful country surroundings mask danger. Her host is receiving death threats, lethal traps are set without explanation around the house and the parlour maid is found strangled to death.

What with the reappearance of the mysterious funerary urns, apair of young lovers, an extremely eccentric swagman, an angry outcast heir, and the luscious Lin Chung, Phryne’s attention has definitely been caught.

Phryne’s search for answers takes her deep into the dungeons of the house and of the limestone Buchan caves. But what will she find this time?

Solve another case with Phryne Fisher.
©1996 Kerry Greenwood (P)2011 Bolinda Publishing Pty Ltd

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Nancy J
  • Tornado Alley OK
  • 02-16-14

Homage to the Golden Age Mysteries and Christie!

This Phryne Fisher adventure is a bit different from earlier Greenwood books. In "Urn Burial," the author has decided to play a game as many earlier mystery writers did in the 1920s and 1930s, sometimes including Agatha Christie. The game involved following the Rules of Murder which had developed over the early years of the genre, and which were "codified" by mystery writer Ronald Knox in 1929.

Knox set forth 10 rules, which he followed in his books (several of those books are available on Audible), including things such as there must be a large party at a country house, no magic or similar gimmicks can be used to solve the crime, there may be no Chinamen introduced into the story, and other matters. (You can find Knox's Rules set forth in the Wikipedia article on The Golden Age of Detection Fiction.) In addition to following those rules, Greenwood also pays homage to Agatha Christie in several details, including naming one of her characters Miss Mary Mead.

I found the story quite engaging, although in a different manner than the previous Phryne adventures. Despite the different structure, however, Phryne is still Phryne, stylish, passionate, self confident, and very much her own woman. As is usual with Phryne books on Audible, there is at the end an interview between the author and Stephanie Daniel, the voice of Phryne, and in these conversations you always pick up a little information about Australia in the 1920s or about Australian history or grography.

I have yet to find a Phryne book on Audible which wasn't fascinating, entertaining, and great fun. They all give you hours of lighthearted adventure, and I love them!

9 of 9 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Helen
  • Erskine, Australia
  • 05-06-12

Kept us interested all the way through.

If you could sum up Urn Burial in three words, what would they be?

Light, entertaining and easy to listen to.

Did the plot keep you on the edge of your seat? How?

Not really

Which scene was your favorite?

In the cave towards the end

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

Yes

Any additional comments?

We listen to Greenwoods books as we drive. We love all her books.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
  • Beth
  • Hollis Center, ME
  • 09-26-13

Great mystery, poor personal choices.

Would you listen to Urn Burial again? Why?

Possibly. I haven't gotten around to listening to any of my books over again. Although I do read them over and over, so you never know.

What did you like best about this story?

I think as the books move on, Kerry Greenwood's descriptions and storyline get stronger.

Have you listened to any of Stephanie Daniel’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

I've been listening to the entire series. This was standard performance, I wouldn't have expected anything else--although STOP SINGING. Jeez.

Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

Yes, but it's kind of a twist, so I don't want to give it away.

Any additional comments?

Ugh. The sex is getting to be a bit too much as far as Phryne is concerned. It's fine with me if she wants one lover a book, but two? Not necessary, and it really skeeved me out, especially since they were both within a day of each other, and technically she was "with" one of them. I thought it was crude and manipulative. I don't appreciate cheating in real life, why would I want to read about it? (the other lovers within the book/storyline don't bother me one bit, although somebody who is more...prejudiced...may take issue).

6 of 7 people found this review helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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Phryne Does Christie

You can always count on Phryne Fisher for a bit of light fun. This one is a bit different from others in the series, as the author tips her hat (or sticks out her tongue) at Agatha Christie. The story is full of the usual Christie tropes (the isolated country house, the long returned secret relative, and on and on) but Greenwood pokes and tweaks them in a very un-Christie way.

It wasn't my favorite of the Phryne mysteries by far, but was quite an enjoyable diversion none the less.

j.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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Good with reservation (spoilers)

Enjoyed how Greenwood played with the Agatha Christie genre. Didn't like a few of the sex scenes - I don't feel it should be portrayed as ok the watch people having sex if they don't know you're there. But then maybe I'm a prude.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Another Fun Story

Urn Burial
By Kerry Greenwood
Narrated by Stephanie Daniel
An interesting take on the old house party mysteries. The book even has a cast lists like in some Agatha Christie books. Set at Gothic country house, where all the occupants have secrets and the bad guy uses those secrets against them. Kerry Greenwood hit on all the tropes, but gives each one her own twist. Pay close attention to the names of characters, there are jokes hidden there. The book is a fun read. If listening to the audio book Stephanie Daniel does a great job reading.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • N
  • 01-20-15

Least favorite of the Phryne novels, but

...still a Phryne novel, so therefore better than most. Away from the usual location and cast of characters, the play on Agatha Christie books will be fun for those in the know. Less so for those, like myself, who find that kind of whodunit set piece a bit trying.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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Least favorite of the series

This is the only Phryne book I could not finish. I adore Phryne’s intelligence and her splendid mix of street smarts and aristocratic elegance, even when she edges a bit further into arrogance for my taste.

The complete lack of any other familiar characters aside from her devoted Lin made this story hard to get into. With the only other familiar character shunted off to a barely supporting role and Phryne’s bizarre behavior, the story lacked the usual sparkle and wit of a Phryne novel.

The plot was...adequate, Greenwood’s version of a Christie country estate cost. (The author has said she prefers Sayers to Christie, and I think it shows here.) I always appreciate the depth of detail Greenwood puts in, and Daniels’ narrative delivery is usually spot on. (Though, as another reviewer said, the singing is becoming wearisome.)

There have been plenty of loathsome characters in this series, but this is the first time I really, really disliked Phryne.

Two things killed this story for me: Phryne’s frankly petulant sulk over her Chinese lover’s refusal to be intimate with her because of the consequences to her reputation. She basically flounces off to have sex with the first stupid pretty boy who swoons at her feet. This is still early in their relationship, so culture clashes are inevitable. How Phryne handled this boggled me.

Phryne is supposed to be intelligent, capable, empathetic (to a degree), living independently since she was 16, a savvy business woman who can navigate Melbourne’s seedy dives and then charm everyone at a formal dinner at a ducal palace the same night. She drove an ambulance in WW1! She can fly, do aerial acrobatics, shoot, swim, pick locks, and speaks several languages.

And yet, when a man she admires won’t compromise his beliefs for her sexual gratification, she acts like a spoiled bratPart of the series charm is that Phryne is a female answer to characters like The Saint. Reverse the gender roles, and it’s no less unpalatable.

The homosexual man simpering and having sex with Phryne to protect his secret relationship with his lover sickened me. Phryne really seemed exploitative there. Now, Phryne has sex with an number of pretty but stupid young men, and since none of them stick around, it doesn’t bother me. (Though tbh, sex scenes are not Greenwood’s strength.). The petulant malice involved *deeply* disturbed me, along with the frankly offensive ‘make the gay person have sex with a heterosexual who has power over them.’

Badly done, Ms. Greenwood. Badly done.
Worse, there are no consequences to Phryne for how she responds to her lover’s refusal, or her manipulative dalliance with an emotionally fragile man. I don’t mind when a hero/ine screws up, but I want them to learn from it, and become better.

The least interesting Phryne stories (to me) are those where she is without her supporting cast, and Urn Burial is the worst of that batch.

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I love Phryne

Miss Fisher Murder Mysteries are a great escape into the world of 1920s Melbourne Australia. Lots of twists and turn keep me enthralled. Descriptions of her fabulous wardrobe, the flora and fauna paint a vibrant picture. Truly likable characters.

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Great story

Loads of fun, red herrings, mysterious characters, adventures, and lovely cocktails. Perfect story to take you away to a wonderful world.

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  • susii
  • 06-25-17

fabulous!!!!! i love miss fisher murder mysteries

i love the tv series so was pleased it was on audio book and i must say i wasnt disappointed.
it is narrated very well.....i loved the story and will be buying the rest of the series.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Rosemary
  • 06-01-12

Fabulous story as usual.

Wonderfully written and narrated,long may Phryne reign !!! I cannot get enough of her adventures.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Kate
  • 01-30-19

Miss Fisher in the Countryside

A fun read that has lashes of golden age crime influences throughout the story - but with a plot as naughty as Miss Fisher can make it. I suspected there were certain Agatha Christie elements about the plot but the addition of the chat with the author at the end of the book helped to confirm my suspicions. The classic country house murder mystery with the detective stuck in the house with the murderer and host of suspects, but with a little more political and racial tensions building with the presence of Phryne's lover, Lin Chung.