Phryne Fisher is bored. Life appears to be too easy, too perfect. Her household is ordered, her love life is pleasant, the weather is fine. And then a man from her past arrives at the door. It is Alan Lee from the carnival. Alan and his friends want her to investigate strange happenings at Farrells Circus, where animals have been poisoned and ropes sabotaged. Mr. Christopher has been found with his throat cut in Mrs. Witherspoon s irreproachable boarding house and Miss Parkes, an ex-performer, is charged with his murder.Phryne must go undercover deeper than ever to solve the circus malaise. She must abandon her name, her title, her protection, her comfort, even her clothes...Can Phyrne uncover the truth without losing her life?~Goodreads Blurb
A reprinting of Kerry Greenwood’s “Phryne Fisher Mysteries,”due out in March, brought this up in my queue. The sixth book in her series, “Blood and Circuses” promised a bored socialite tossed into circus life and forced to help her friends solve their problems at the expense of her comfort. That’s not exactly what I ended up holding in my hands. I started reading through this series back in 2016 and I hadn’t quite made it this far so I was surprised to see what had happened to the heroine Greenwood had painted for us in her previous books.
Instead of a Lady Detective who uses her feminine nature as a strength and isn’t above using stereotypes to get her way, I was left with Fern (Phryne’s stagename) whinging on and on. We had been told that our Miss Fisher hadn’t always been rich and posh. Yet the second we remove the house and the servants she becomes this broken little character. Even for a light cozy story, the turnabout is surprising. It’s almost as if Greenwood has forgotten several of the character details and decided to make up some new ones to fill in the gaps. I do appreciate how difficult it must be to keep the characters fresh and to show different sides of them as time goes on, but I felt as if I was getting a completely different character rather than merely a new aspect and side of Phryne.
The mysteries were a good bit of fun with the standard locked room murder and some gangland violence thrown in for good mix. I had a bit of trouble seeing the connections between the couple of stories we were seeing, though the last few chapters wrapped everything up together quite nicely. While I would recommend this series overall, I wouldn’t make this one required reading. It’s a fun set if you enjoy cozy mysteries set in the past.
* This eBook was provided by NetGalley and Poisoned Pen Press in exchange for honest feedback*
Kerry Greenwood was born in the Melbourne suburb of Footscray and after wandering far and wide, she returned to live there. She has a degree in English and Law from Melbourne University and was admitted to the legal profession on the 1st April 1982, a day which she finds both soothing and significant.
Freelance Editor & Reviewer