by Kerry Greenwood
Kerry Greenwood created a much more complex mystery in Unnatural Habits than others of the Phryne Fisher Mystery Series that I have read. There are several significant investigations occurring simultaneously as well as some minor threads to be unravelled. I remember viewing the movie version of this book years ago. With this series, I usually like the movie better than the book, but in this case I must insist that the book is, in fact, light years past the movie which can not begin to do justice to the intricate plot or character development.
Greenwood, through Phryne Fisher, takes up the cause of girls and women who are treated like sexual property in a time when most women receive little respect and the Catholic church ignores various kinds of ill treatment of girls, women, and boys. Phryne is unable to rest until all of the immediate problems are solved, and she puts her own life at risk to rescue less fortunates.
This particular tale is enhanced by the frequent inclusion of her “minions” as she calls her willing helpers—Tink, her apprentice; Dot, her assistant and companion; Jane and Ruth, her adopted daughters; Burt and Cec, socialist taxi drivers; and Mr. and Mrs. Butler, providers of specialty drinks and food. Each character is called upon to use their unique skills to aid in the investigations.
Australia of the 1920’s comes to life with descriptions of dress of various levels of society, examinations of attitudes, laws, and customs, and use of unique terms. Some of the moral issues examined in the book would be considered reprehensible by most people today. Others are still being debated. There are some actions taken in the novel by Miss Fisher and others that are illegal, but are ignored because ignoring them promotes the general good and provides food for thought for the reader.
I would like to extend my thanks to netgalley.com and to Poisoned Pen Press for giving me the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.
Category: Historical Fiction, Mystery
Notes: All of the Phryne Fisher books may be enjoyed as standalones, but the characters are more interesting if you have read a few of the books in the series.
Publication: July 4, 2017—Poisoned Pen Press
She was pursuing a very perilous line of enquiry and appeared to have the sense of self-preservation of a chocolate Easter egg in a blast furnace.
“Assume the rules do not apply to you, and they don’t.”
The tone of voice could have been used in the fishing industry for freezing prawns.
“Government reports are like that,” Phryne told her. “Not altogether meant to be understood, thus easily denied.”