Away With the Fairies is the eleventh book in Kerry Greenwood’s excellent period mystery series featuring Phryne Fisher, a woman whose elegance and élan are only eclipsed by her courage and intellect. I think of her as pure wish fulfillment, gorgeous, rich, brilliant, and with the mores and freedoms of a 21st century woman in the glorious gowns and fashions of the 1920s. What could possibly be better?
Away With the Fairies sends Phryne to a popular woman’s magazine to investigate the death of their agony aunt and famed author/illustrator Miss Marcella Lavender. Miss Lavender’s fame came from her fairy stories and illustrations that are all just a bit too twee for Phryne and Detective Inspector Jack Robinson. Her apartment home is awash in fairies, gnomes and all things pink which might have been enough to inspire someone to murder, but other possibilities abound. First, it’s clear she is a gossipy neighbor and nosy parker, so perhaps one of the others who live in the apartments. There is also an unusual monthly deposit she received which could indicate blackmail. And then, as the advice columnist, she might just have given some bad advice and reaping some revenge.
Phryne goes to work at the magazine helping out the fashion column while Dot tracks down some of the letter writers. Meanwhile, far more worrying, Lin Chung is missing and someone seems to be trying to kill Phryne.
I like Away With the Fairies. It’s fair as Phryne Fisher mysteries always are. It moves faster than some of her mysteries, perhaps because there are two distinct issues, the kidnapping on Lin Chung and the murder of Miss Lavender. They don’t intersect so neither investigation needs to move more slowly to not reveal too much of the other.
If you like fair mysteries that are written to a successful formula with clearly defined characters, you should like this series. Greenwood does her research and seeks to be historically accurate and incorporate as much of the real commerce, characters and structures of 1920s Melbourne as she can. The sense of time and place are excellent. In this book, Greenwood shows a more authentic display of the mores of that time, the advice to suffer a husband’s abuse for example is the kind of advice that would be given at that time. The intolerance of white/aboriginal marriages is the kind of intolerance that dominated the era. In many of the series, Phryne’s own modern values so dominate that the harsh intolerance and misogyny of the era is not apparent. That is not so in this book.
I like Phryne. I think I always will. Greenwood manages to write several books without sounding like the is writing Phryne off a character card she developed in a workshop. That makes me happy.
Away With the Fairies will be released on August 1st. I received an e-galley in advance from the publisher through NetGalley.