Sunday, October 04, 2009

Phryne Fisher takes a real puzzler

Murder on A Midsummer Night
By Kerry Greenwood
July 2009. 268 pages
HC $22.95
Poisoned Pen Press

It’s 1929 and the Honorable Lady Phryne Fisher, detective extraordinaire agrees to determine if the son of a model died by his or other hands. In addition she is trying to locate the ;long-missing relative of a rich woman. The RW’s relatives are less than pleased.

These are not unusual or particularly original plots, but in the hands of the bright and sensuous P. Fisher and her equally adept and perspicacious creator and mentor, Kerry Greenwood, it’s another delightful sexy, surprising detective story. Excellent.

Two cases. One is the aforementioned junk store owner found dead on the beach, his pockets filled with stones. The other is the possible child born out of wedlock to a now wealthy, deceased widow. What happened to this “love child?” Where is he now? Who is he? And of course, does he have a family of his own who may inherit? Problem. The widow was long lived, had her child in great secrecy and there are apparently no records. Who was the father if indeed the young woman had a child. Many questions, not the least if which is whether the intrepid Hon. Miss Fisher will winkle out the truth.

Miss Fisher is never in extremis in this novel, even though there are twists and turns and all kinds of chicanery, including murder. In the form of Agatha Christie, this novel, with more sex and puzzle than Dame Agatha allowed, is replete with fine understated descriptive phrases and odd characters. A delight to read.

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