Monday, February 11, 2013

Unnatural Habits: Review

I do love Miss Phryne Fisher of the Kerry Greenwood mysteries.  There are some series that become stale or too formulaic as they go on, but Greenwood manages to keep the surprises coming and the interest piqued....even at entry #19: Unnatural Habits.  This particular outing puts a little bit darker spin on the adventures of the grownup's Nancy Drew.

Phryne finds herself drawn into the world of "bad girls" and white slaving when a spate of disappearances occurs that involves everyone from fallen women who are pregnant out of wedlock to young blonde daughters of some of Australia's middle class to a reckless, self-important girl reporter who hasn't the sense to smell danger even when it reeks like Limburger cheese. After rescuing said reporter from being beaten by the minions of certain people unhappy about her nosiness, Phryne discovers that Polly Kettle (reporter) is looking for a scoop on the missing girls.  When Polly herself goes missing, Phryne and her household are on the job--going from horrid "laying-in" homes for the unfortunate pregnant to behind the scenes at a convent laundry to an exclusive "gentleman's club."  By the time it is all over, Phryne has to restrain herself from permanently removing a few priests from the church and indulges in a little high-seas piracy to save the girls from a fate worst than death.  And she does it all with her usual elegance, sharp wit, and courage--even when outnumbered twenty to one.

The Phryne Fisher stories are always good for a quick, adventurous read.  Full of details of 1920s Australia and lots of interesting action.  The mystery plots may not be terribly intricate, but that's really not what I'm looking for when I pick up a Miss Fisher mystery.  I want Miss Fisher doing some on the ground detective work, putting the bad guys in their place, being brave and feisty, using her wits and leaving the awestruck in her path.  She may be larger than life and a tad too perfect at everything--but what is an escape novel for, if not for that?  Kerry Greenwood has struck a wonderful balance with her 1920s super-heroine and I, for one, hope that Phryne goes on for another 19 adventures or more.  Four stars.


J F Norris said...

Do you know about the TV show based onthese books? Looks fabulous! I tried to watch an episode online but those damn overseas copyright laws prevent anyone in the US from watching the show. Blast it!

Bev Hankins said...


Yes, I know about the show (which does, indeed look fabulous). It's on my wishlist--the hubby has instructions to order it up for an appropriate gift-giving occasion as soon as he can.

samantha.1020 said...

I really, really need to try this series at some point. I even added the first book to my reader so hopefully it will be sooner rather than later! Great review!

Ryan said...

When you did that FFC guest post for me, you talked me into giving this series a try. Now, I just need to get the first book.