27 September 2013

Book Review: UNNATURAL HABITS, Kerry Greenwood

  • Published by Allen & Unwin 2012
  • ISBN 978-1-74237-243-3
  • 332 pages
  • #19 in the Phryne Fisher series
  • library book
  • read an extract
Synopsis (Allen & Unwin)

1929: pretty little golden-haired girls are going missing in Melbourne. But they're not just pretty. Three of them are pregnant, poor girls from the harsh confines of the Magdalen Laundry. People are getting nervous.

Polly Kettle, a pushy, self-important Girl Reporter with ambition and no sense of self preservation, decides to investigate--and promptly goes missing herself.

It's time for Phryne and Dot to put a stop to this and find Polly Kettle before something quite irreparable happens to all of them. It's a tale of convents and plots, piracy, murder and mystery . . . and Phryne finally finds out if it's true that blondes have more fun.

My Take

Nearly a quarter of a century on from the start of the series, Phryne Fisher is going as strong as ever. This remarkable, seemingly ageless, sleuth has gathered quite a household around her now, and also has the local police in her pocket. Most of Melbourne's high society either count her as a friend, or they owe her something, and so she has passage into places that the police on their own could never penetrate, like the Blue Cat Club and the Abbotsford Convent and the Magdalen laundry.

For me Kerry Greenwood seems to have captured well the essence of society's attitude to unmarried mothers, as well the growing militant unionism of the late 1920s. A mark of her indefatigable research.

These novels carry the hallmarks of most cozies, with a tinge of Australian history and attitudes. There's plenty of humour, and loads of well drawn characters. At the same time they are well plotted, and I think UNNATURAL HABITS is almost Greenwood at her best. Their growth in popularity, and that of the Miss Fisher television series, ensure they are also available overseas, at least in e-format, for a reasonable price.

My rating: 4.8

I have reviewed

Phryne Fisher
1. Cocaine Blues (1989)
     aka Death by Misadventure
2. Flying Too High (1990)
3. Murder on the Ballarat Train (1991)
4. Death at Victoria Dock (1992)
5. The Green Mill Murder (1993)
6. Blood and Circuses (1994)
7. Ruddy Gore (1995)
8. Urn Burial (1996)
9. Raisins and Almonds (1997)
10. Death Before Wicket (1999)
11. Away with the Fairies (2001)
12. Murder in Montparnasse (2002)
13. The Castlemaine Murders (2003)
14. Queen of the Flowers (2004)
15. Death By Water (2005)
16. Murder in the Dark (2006)
17. Murder on a Midsummer Night (2008)
18. Dead Man's Chest (2010)
19. Unnatural Habits (2012)
20. Murder & Mendelssohn (2013) 


Anonymous said...

Kerrie - I do like this series very much. It is a cosy series but at the same time, it's not 'frothy.' And you're right; Greenwood is a skilled researcher.

Susan said...

I have to catch up with this series. I thoroughly enjoyed the first one. Unfortunately it is hard to get the books in order, which I like to read them in. It's good to know they continue to get better and better. One of my 2014 goals, to catch up with this one. Thanks for the review, Kerrie.


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