Phryne doing what she does best, seducing young men and solving crimes. As always, Phryne comes across cold and somewhat mocking of the men in her lifPhryne doing what she does best, seducing young men and solving crimes. As always, Phryne comes across cold and somewhat mocking of the men in her life, though she is not as unlikeable with it as in the previous book.
Greenwood's depiction of the jewish community in the early 20th century Melbourne is colourful and very enjoyable. The mystery is steeped in the culture, allowing for discussions of early century zionism, jewish mysticism and other rabbinic studies, and the yiddish language.
On the whole it was light, entertaining and you might even learn a few things....more
I have a lot of books on my to-read list so it is rare that I am "waiting" for a book to come out. However, I find myself growing excited when I hearI have a lot of books on my to-read list so it is rare that I am "waiting" for a book to come out. However, I find myself growing excited when I hear a new Matthew Bartholomew novel is due for release, and for the first time in quite a few years, found myself dropping it straight to the top of my read pile on release.
Gregory does not disappoint. The twenty-first entry in the ongoing mystery series and Matthew is showing every bit of the wear from the previous books, completely disillusioned with love and personal matters but holding strong to the core of him, the love of healing.
Cambridge is once again nearly aflame as the always-simmering tensions between town and university are once again encouraged, this time by a devious and remarkably clever antagonist. With half of the university pushing to decamp from cambridge for the fens, and a large portion of the town calling for exactly the same thing, everyone is at each other's throats. Add to this a strange disease running rampant through the town, an arrogant but incompetent doctor recently arrived, a noxious dyeworks opened in the city by Bartholemew's own sister, Michaelhouse's near financial ruin and a steadily increasing bodycount, and the stage is set for what could well be the end of the university, if not the entire town.
With such high stakes, and tempers flaring all over Cambridge, not even priests are safe from attack.
There is a lot to love in this book for fans of the rest of the series, with one stand-out being a more visible role being played by Dickon, the Sheriff's wild son, now ten years old and dying his face red like a devil, with his hair fashioned into two tiny horns. He patrols by day with his father, terrifying scholar and townsman alike.
Anyone who is a fan of historical crime novels will love this book, though if you've never read any of this series before do yourself a favour and begin, as they say, at the beginning. The journey is worth it....more
A wholly enjoyable murder mystery, written as a deliberate pastiche in the classic "golden age" style, whilst simulataneously subverting the rules (foA wholly enjoyable murder mystery, written as a deliberate pastiche in the classic "golden age" style, whilst simulataneously subverting the rules (for instance, there is certainly a Chinaman involved in the story. Two, in fact.)
I sometimes find it difficult to like Phryne Fisher in these novels, and so it was in this book, particularly in the way she flaunts her short affair with Gerald in front of Lin, her chinese lover and her guest at the house in which they are staying.
It's a small thing, and an important piece of characterisation for the character, which is in keeping with how she has been written throughout the series. It's also good to see a strong, female lead character who isn't at all ashamed of acting like many of her male counterparts - and at the very least, less deviously than most of them.
However hard it can be to like her sometimes, it's never difficult to admire her. She bursts into full life in every story and this is no exception - even her enjoyment at playing at Poirot in the ending is obvious and fitting.
In golden age fashion, every major player has a secret in this story, and though not all of them are surprising by the time they are revealed, there are enough sudden twists and surprise reveals to make it a delight to read. ...more
GraphicAudio is a fantastic concept really, a throw back to the old radio dramas of the 30s and 40s, making use of modern technology to create amazingGraphicAudio is a fantastic concept really, a throw back to the old radio dramas of the 30s and 40s, making use of modern technology to create amazingly well produced full cast audiobooks. With the right source material, it's going to be a gold idea every time.
John Zakour's series about the last Private Eye is wacky, ridiculous and hilarious - a perfect match for GraphicAudio and a stunning, highly entertaining package over all.
The twists and turns never really stop from the first page onwards, and underneath the anything goes humour is a very cleverly crafted story that plants seeds early on and pays them off with style. It's not long but the pace never slackens and the ending ties everything up in a very satisfying way.
I decided to give the series a second go after not really enjoying the first, and perhaps unsurprisingly, I didn't particularly enjoy the second bookI decided to give the series a second go after not really enjoying the first, and perhaps unsurprisingly, I didn't particularly enjoy the second book in this series either. I really wanted to, and tried hard, but in the end, no. I even put it down for several months before deciding to finish the final third of it, in the off-chance it got better. It didn't.
You can read my previous review for a full explanation of what bothers me about this series, despite loving the genre intensely most of the time. I think the short version is simply this. It's not really a historical mystery.
It looks like one, certainly. Has all the trappings, medieval town, smelly streets, religious friar as a protagonist, the occasional historical tidbit thrown in (like a whore shaved bald and marched about the streets with a sign around her neck, or the suicide buried at a crossroad with a stake in his heart). But it's all just a set, like an elaborate costume party where everyone dresses in period costume but are still themselves underneath.
That's what has been niggling at me as I read these books - the author completely fails to adjust his own modern attitude to suit the time he is writing about, and it comes out not just in some of the characters, but nearly all of them.
It's difficult to write a sympathetic protagonist with an alien viewpoint to the reader's, which is one of the reasons so many protagonists in historical fiction are themselves quite exceptional. A perfect example of this is Matthew Bartholomew, from Susanna Gregory's excellent series of the same name. He is a middle ages doctor with a far more modern (though not entirely modern) outlook on medicine and life. He doesn't worry overmuch about astrological charts, he doesn't bleed his patients, performs surgery when requried, and he even washes his hands (shock of shocks).
The reason for all this? He studied and travelled with an Arabic master; the Arabs at that time had forgotten more medicine than the English knew and things like washing and anatomy were not unknown or anathema to them. Matthew pays a massive price for his oddity however, and throughout the series has been attacked (verbally and physically), accused of witchcraft, and often been in danger for his life, simply for his differing views.
Contrast this with Brother Athelstan, a very modern thinking man - who has absolutely no reason to be, at least none given in the first two books. His attitude is very unlike the prevailing at the time, particularly for a man with a religious vocation, a member of a strict order. Likewise, he never suffers for his oddity, but rather most everyone else either doesn't notice, or shares his views. Those close to him, his allies, all have very modern outlooks on the world, and it grates terribly against the suspension of disbelief.
I wont rule out reading book three sometime in the future, to see if it grabs me. It seems a shame since Doherty is very competent, even clever, in his mysteries themselves and the writing. The characters can be quite endearing at times, and I find myself buying into the soap opera when it comes to the struggles of their lives, particularly when it comes to Cranston the coroner. However, I wont be hurrying back, for I find the irritation of the modern characters in historical skin outweighs enjoyment of the plot at this point....more