Three by Kerry Greenwood – Reviews

Currently on Loan from the Library:

Greenlanders by: Jane Smiley

Eaters of the Dead by: Michael Crichton

The Whale Road by: Robert Low

Ranger’s Apprentice by: John Flanagan 

Other Books I’m Reading:

Okay, I admit it, I’m still working on Anathem by: Neal Stephenson.  I understand there is an uptick in the action here somewhere.  I just don’t seem to have gotten there yet.  

Today I’m going to do short reviews of the first three books in the Phryne Fisher series by Kerry Greenwood.  I’m not grouping them together to short change them in any way.  It’s just Kerry is a woman with a theme, or well, several themes to her writing.  I think if I tried to break these down and review them one by one, I’d get tired of typing, and you’d get tired of reading.

The first book in the series is Cocaine Blues.   After several establishing shots of Phryne in England solving one of the silliest attempts at a jewel heist ever, the book quickly moves on to the heart of the plot.  There is a set of parents in England who are worried about their daughter in Australia.  They suspect their daughter is being poisoned by her husband.  So Phryne sets off to solve the mystery, with the intent of staying in Australia.

Since I had already read Unnatural Habits it was fun to read the origins of  some of the characters that figure large in that book.  Mostly the cab drivers, and Phryne’s maid.   The characters are colorful, and interesting, however the plot is a little flat.  Kerry tips her hand pretty early in this book.  I had the cocaine kingpin picked out before I’d read the first quarter.  On the other hand, it is a book clearly intended to establish a series.  Which means the author has to take the time to write the establishing material.  All in all it was a good read.

Flying Too High is the second book in the series.  This book was a bit more of a romp.  There are airplanes, and a perfectly flabbergasting scene of Phryne wing walking.  This book features a murder, which does not get solved almost instantly, and a kidnapping.  The kidnapping plot does get a little weird at the end.  There are several points where I wondered why the kidnappers didn’t just kill the child.  They certainly seemed to have no problem with murder on the whole.   Phryne’s household of crime solvers is added to some more.  Also, if you like detailed descriptions of houses and period decor, this one is for you.

Then I moved on to the third in the series, Murder on the Ballarat Train.  Basically this book is about a murder on a train.   But it’s one of the more convoluted murder plots I’ve read.  Phryne also adopts two more people into her family of crime solvers.  Leaving this reader to wonder who Phryne won’t adopt.  There is more white slavery in this one.  Again it becomes obvious very quickly who the murderer must be.  I do think Murder on the Ballarat Train is the weakest of the four that I’ve read.

Here’s the thing about themes.  While there are no real scenes of corporeal exuberance in any of these books, they are full of sexual politics.  There isn’t a one of the four I’ve read that excludes a woman, or women being abused in some way.  There are many representations of alternative lifestyles, and a child molester figures heavily in Flying Too High.  Phyrne has a simply endless stream of lovers.   Also, I think it’s pretty universally acknowledged that popping into bed with a source is just a bad idea.  I don’t dislike the books for this.  I just find them oppressive.

Enjoyability:  I’m going three and a half stars on these.  I probably won’t read any more of them.  It’s just not my thing.  

Where to read this book:  I bet these are good beach reads.  They are short, easy to carry, and not over involved.  

Further reading: I plugged “viking” into the search engine at the library, and I’m reading the first several of the results.  

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Posted on May 6, 2013, in Fiction, fun, Reading, review and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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