Phryne Fisher is heading to the resort town of Queenscliff for her summer holiday. Accompanied by her faithful companion Dot, Molly the dog, and her two adoptive daughters Ruth and Jane; she is looking forward to a completely uneventful sojourn by the sea. She has promised everyone that there will be “absolutely no murders”. But on arrival they discover that the Johnsons, who were to be their cook and butler, appear to have absconded taking all their possessions with them.
Mystery pursues the Hon Phryne Fisher. Even when she is not wearing her mantle as a detective, she always finds something that needs investigating or, perhaps, it finds her. This rollicking tale unfolds to reveal a local pirate legend, a gathering of seaside surrealists and a cast of vibrant characters. It also sees Phryne in need of a restorative cocktail or two as she searches for the missing Mr and Mrs Johnson—although she still finds time to sit on the balcony and admire the sea that is “like a crumples blue satin sheet, liberally embroidered with sails.”
This is the eighteenth Phryne Fisher mystery and it is a welcome addition to the collection. The series is sequential but each can be read as a standalone novel. As with all of the previous books, we learn more about Phryne and her household as well as gaining extra insight into late 1920s Australian life. This is a meticulously researched work and the intricate details of everyday life are fascinating. The prose has a light, evocative touch and is suffused with dry wit—who could fail to smile at phrases such as “Phryne did not venture on coffee in watering places, because she really liked coffee”?
Phryne’s fans, and they are legion, will welcome another instalment in the adventures of this independent siren with her sleek bobbed hair and impeccable sense of style. For others this will be their first taste of an addictive literary indulgence. And indulgence is a very fitting term as Phryne herself has a strong appreciation for the finer things in life— men, clothing and food, although in no particular order!
Kerry Greenwood has written more than forty novels, six non-fiction works and she is the editor of two collections. Previous novels in the Phryne Fisher series include Cocaine Blues, Flying too High, Murder on the Ballarat Train, Death on the Victoria Dock, Blood and Circuses, The Green Mill Murder. The most recent offering, before Dead Man’s Chest, was Murder on a Midsummer Night. She is also the author of the Corinna Chapman crime series (set in present day Melbourne), several books for young adults and the Delphic Women series. When she is not writing she is an advocate in Magistrates’ Court for the Legal Aid Commission. She lives in Footscray (in Melbourne’s west) along with her cats and a registered wizard. She is not married.
Title: Dead Man’s Chest
Author: Kerry Greenwood
Category: Crime & Mystery
Publisher: ALLEN & UNWIN
Publication Date: October 2010