Dead Man’s Chest
Poisoned Pen, Dec 1 2010, $24.95
It is time for a vacation and Queenscliff, a quiet seaside resort is the place where the Honorable Phryne Fisher, her housekeeper and companion Dot, and her adopted daughters (Ruth and Jane) go. It is a quaint coastal village, so no one would expect a murder there. Phryne sees trouble when three bullies assault a younger person.
She breaks up the fight and Tinker joins her household. The Johnsons who were supposed to be the household servants meeting them at the cottage never show up and ergo no cook. Fortunately Ruth wants to be a chef, but Phryne still wants to know where they are. The old biddy who lives across the street saw men get into a dark limo showing signs of duress. Phryne thinks there is mystery involving the vanishing and she intends to learn what it is to insure they are safe. Soon more people join her household as Phryne finds places for all these desperate misfits in order to keep them safe while she learns what happened to the Johnson’s.
If this Australian historical mystery took place in 2010 instead of the late 1920s, readers (religious right would not read her exploits only condemn her as amoral) would s classify Phryne as a caring free spirit not concerned with adhering to social rules and order. The heroine and her entourage search for the missing servants and take in several endangered stragglers. Filled with action and a sense of time and place, Phryne is at her best whether it is fighting punks, arguing with Pussykins the parrot or wondering about the surrealist movement that seems to have taken over the quaint holiday spot. Fans will enjoy the often amusing but sometimes dangerous antics of Fisher and friends (see Murder on a Midsummer Night, Death by Water and Murder in the Dark).