Neither Kerry Greenwood nor her indomitable character Phryne Fisher mess around, so it’s no surprise that Raisins and Almonds starts off with a murder in the third paragraph. Someone is soon arrested but, of course, the wrong person, necessitating the hiring of Miss Fisher to find the real killer and free the self-possessed bookseller accused of the crime.

The most unusual clue is a collection of seemingly incomprehensible documents that lead Phryne to investigate not just the Jewish community, but the mystical fields of alchemy and Jewish mysticism. Adding Yiddish words by the hour, Phryne takes a deep dive into Judaism, including a beautifully handsome young lover, the son of the man who hired her.

As usual, Phryne involves her own irregulars in the pursuit of justice. There are surprises and her investigation is fair and there are plenty of complications.

I like a good series and Phryne Fisher is one of my favorites. She is sui generic, a liberated, modern woman in a time where it was possible but rare. She’s smart, independent, kind, all the while maintaining her fun and fashionable life.

This is not my favorite in this series. It made me think of the “write what you know” advice for writers. I generally think that is misinterpreted, after all none of knows alien worlds or future societies, but people write wonderful books about them. I think write what you know is more important in writing about emotions and how people act, react, and interact. It is hard to write authentically about emotions you have never felt. However, this time I see how write what you know might apply to more mundane purposes. I can feel the hours of Greenwood’s research in the novel. It weighs it down, not when Phryne is reading the books, but when the knowledge is being repeated by her. It sometimes seems as though Greenwood felt that if she did all that research, she is darn well going to shoehorn it into the book. I understand that, I hate to leave work out of anything I write.

Still, it is a fun book and I look forward to more in the series, hopefully ones without so much esoterica, making it easier to leave in the notes and off the page.

Raisins and Almonds will be released on June 6th. I received an advance e-galley from the publisher through NetGalley.

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