Miss Phryne Fisher, the 1920-ties female detective in her fast car and her flapper dress with a sleek bobcut hairdo and a sigarette. I liked the series (was in those days here in Holland only available on internet sites - what for us Dutchies was not illegal to watch). The book is even better because of all the humour and subtle jokes. I was astonished to see point blank in a detective novel that felt very old style mentioned miss Fischer was sick of her dry spell of a week and masturbated. What will the American prudes have a shock :) (It took me to read it twice to grasp what was suggested there).
While Phryne's townhouse in Melbourne is redecorated she moves her companion and her adopted daughters to a seashore resort (in the making, it is interesting to see how "trippers" in those days vacationed) where they are allowed to borrow the house of a anthropologist who is away on an expedition. To their surprise however the housekeeper and cook couple is not present and it looks like the house is looted for food while the valuables are still there and even the housekeeper's dog shows up. Phryne and her merry band wonder what this is all about but make do with one daughter cooking all kind of fancy dishes (instructions included in the book after the story) and the other focussed on science.
In the meantime they meet the neighbours: the ghastly old hag who spies on everybody, the always drunk mother of a teenage boy who with his two friends bullies the local kids and some weirdo surrealists. Then there is the filmcrew shooting a movie about a local pirate and his never recovered treasure hoard, a snapper who cuts off the braids of young girls and smugglers and maybe a murder.
The book is a pleasure to read. After having seen a series it is always a gamble if the original book will be as much fun but it was even better. The author is a very accomplished writer. Not just the plot but also the how.
It's high summer in Melbourne—the ideal time, Phryne Fisher thinks, to
pack up the Hispano-Suiza and withdraw to the quiet vacation town of
Queenscliff, at the mouth of the Bay. And yet, there is mystery and
intrigue almost from the moment of her arrival. The Johnsons, who staff
the holiday house, are nowhere to be found… along with much of the
home's contents. When their bedraggled dog shows up days later, the
Johnsons’ absence begins to look like something more sinister. Between
the missing staff, coastal smugglers, daft surrealists and a pigtail
thief, Phryne’s vacation is proving to be anything but.
Dead Man’s Chest, set in the Australia of 1929, is the 18th of Kerry Greenwoods much-loved Phryne Fisher mysteries.