Monday, May 9, 2011

Crime Fiction Alphabet: Letter Q

Kerrie over at Mysteries in Paradise sponsors The Aphabet in Crime Fiction community meme. your post MUST be related to the first letter of the book's title, the first letter of the author's first name or the first letter of the author's surname. You can write a book review or a bio of an author so long as it fits the rules somehow.

This week we are featuring the Letter Q. Most fortuitously, I just finished Kerry Greenwood's Queen of the Flowers--so Q is for Queen of the Flowers.

Kerry Greenwood writes the delightful Phryne Fisher mystery series. The stories are set in Australia between the World Wars. I have mentioned before that I consider Phryne the grown-up's Nancy Drew. Like Nancy, she can keep up with the men and the boys and give as good as she gets. She has steel in her spine and a plethora of witty comebacks. She can handle a pistol and herself in a fight. She drives a beautiful, fast car and can fly an airplane. She swims like a fish and can dance all night. And she runs circles around any criminal who comes her way while making time to make time with the most eligible of available bachelors. She sounds (and probably is) quite improbable, but Kerry Greenwood writes such entertaining stories and writes them so well that you don't even notice.

In this outing, the circus has come to town just in time for St. Kilda's first Flower Festival which includes a parade and floats and a queen. And who should be Queen of the Flowers but the Honourable Phryne Fisher? Not only is she one of the most beautiful women in St. Kilda, but one of the most generous--another qualification for the queen and her flower maidens. Phryne has dresses to be fitted, entertainments to attend, and agreeable cocktails to drink. But in the middle of all the festive preparations one of her four flower maidens, an unstable girl, disappears. This sets Phryne on an investigation which takes her through the world of gambling dens and brothels. She finds herself up against tough Australian gangsters as well as teenage pique. As usual when she needs help with St. Kilda's underbelly, she calls on the help of Bert and Cec, two former dock workers who now run a taxi service. Also on call is her little beretta, an old flame from Orkney, a surprising owner of one of the most exclusive brothels, and three elephants. The tension keeps building until Phryne's adopted daughter Ruth also goes missing and now Phryne is determined that nothing and no one will stand in the way of her finding her lost lamb.

Greenwood once again provides a fast-moving, action-packed adventure with interesting characters. Although there is a more serious motive behind the attempt on the flower maiden and the girl has endured more difficult treatment than characters in other Greenwood stories, I would still classify this as a light read. The mystery itself isn't a real puzzle--the story is primarily an adventure with a mystery thrown in. Delightful reading when you don't want anything too heavy. Four stars out of five.


Anonymous said...

Hello Bev, outside of your email address, I had not ever heard of Phryne before! I shall have to start hunting. Where would you suggest a complete neophyte start?

Sherrie said...

Hi Bev,
It sounds so intriguing. I'll have to check this one out. Thanks for stopping by my place. Have a great day!

Just Books

Yvette said...

Bev: I tried reading one of the Phrynne books but I just couldn't get into it. I know you love them, so the fault obviously lies with me. I am a bad person. Ha!

Down the line, I'm going to try another one just to make sure. :)

Anonymous said...

Bev - Thanks for sharing this! This is a series that I've not tried (yet), but your review makes me want to. Soon.

Bev Hankins said...

@Yvette: No judgments here. I'm sure there are probably a few authors/series that you love that I don't think much of.