Sunday, May 26, 2013

Cocaine Blues: Review

My husband bought me the DVD of the first season of the Phryne Fisher mysteries.  That--combined with the Book Bingo Challenge (which has a portion for rereads) has prompted me to go back to the beginning of Kerry Greenwood's mystery series and give Cocaine Blues another run through.  And I'm glad I did.

I'm not quite sure what was going on when I read the Greenwood's debut novel in the Phryne Fisher series.  A little stressed?  Had a bad day?  My short and pithy summation from that first time (pre-blogging days): I'm glad I didn't read this first book first. Phryne comes into her own in the later books. This one is okay...but they get better! Two and a half stars.

Seriously, past self, not on target at all.  This was a fun, fast-paced, first novel.  It is a perfect introduction to the witty, self-assured  young heroine from the '20s.  Watching Phryne quickly trace the clues to solve a jewel theft in the opening chapters tells us all we need to know about our intelligent, capable detective-in-the-making.  Her quick success in fingering the light-fingered guest at the social event of the year leads a retired Colonel to enlist her aid in getting to the bottom of his daughter's strange illness.  

So, Phryne is off to Australia to discover whether Lydia Andrews is being slowly poisoned by her husband.  Before she can get to the bottom of that mystery, however, she finds herself involved with cocaine smuggling rings, drug dealers, dirty cops, and grisly abortionists. Along the way she will make friends with communistic cab drivers and detective inspectors, have romantic interludes with handsome Russian dancers, save a young woman from committing murder and then living on the streets (and make of her a right-hand woman), and treat various evil-doers to a rightful taste of justice.

Greenwood does an excellent job introducing us to Phryne.  We soon learn that our heroine has only recently come into wealth.  A number of male heirs perished in the Great War, making it possible for her father (and family) to rise from poverty to the comforts of the very rich.  This makes it entirely plausible for Phryne to make friends and interact with people at all levels of the social strata.  She gets on just as well with cab drivers as she does with the social elite (if not better). And giving her extraordinary skills and courage (a la Nancy Drew) may make her larger than life and a tad too perfect at everything--but what is an escape novel for, if not for that?  And these novels are escapist mystery adventures pure and simple.  Three and a half stars this time round for a delightful opening to a lovely series.


Peggy Arthurs said...

I've had this on Ebook for sometime and haven't gotten to it yet. sounds good. I'll have to investigate the TV series!

Bev Hankins said...

Peggy Ann: I hope you like Phryne as much as I do.

Puzzle Doctor said...

I'll have to come down on the other side of the argument here, Bev. I found this a tortuous read - and the scene where Miss Fisher distracts a bad guy by... erm, having relations with her partner, was dreadful. Glad to see the series improves, but it'd take quite something before I come back to it. We agree on most things, but will have to agree to disagree on this one.

Bev Hankins said...

Well, yes, Steve. Must admit that distractions was a And I'm glad to say that when relations of that sort come up in future they're not presented anything like that. Still, the story went down much better this time than my first go-round.

Ryan said...

You sold me on these books when you did the guest post for me. Now I just need to buy them.

Gram said...

I could not get through this book the first time, maybe I will reconsider. I do love her Corinna Chapman books though!!!