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Posts Tagged ‘female detective’

Every Christmas I like to read a Christmas themed book, and this was my choice for this year.

Set in 1935, Daphne King is an agony aunt at a local newspaper in London, but dreams of being a serious journalist. When she is sent to do a fluff piece interviewing the director of a new adaptation of A Christmas Carol being performed at the Theatre Royale, matters take a serious turn when the lead actor dies on stage, apparently of a heart attack. But Daphne suspects that there is more to the death and decides to investigate.

All I wanted from this book was an easy enjoyable read, and on that level it definitely delivered. However, there were a few things that niggled at me slightly. The characters were all caricatures, and the females particularly were almost cartoonish. I did like Daphne though and would like to see more of her in future stories.

The story itself was fun with plenty of twists and turns, and enough red herrings to keep the reader guessing, and it was a pleasant enough way to pass some time. Other than that, I don’t have a lot to say…if you’re looking for a meaty serious read, this is not it. If you’re looking for a fun diversion (think Agatha Christie but really really ‘lite’) then this might be something you would enjoy.

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This is the sixth book in the Phryne Fisher Mystery series, and probably my favourite one so far. In essence, our feminist, intrepid sleuth is bored, and goes undercover at the Farrell’s Circus, where she has friends, to try and find out who is trying to sabotage the circus, and who murdered Mr Christopher, one of the acts. Phryne, so usually able to hold her own in almost any situation, finds herself out of her depth and lacking in friendship. Not to mention that she is not able to easily call on her friends and Detective Inspector Jack Robinson (although Jack does take a bigger role in this book than in previous adventures). Without her usual back-up she has to rely on her own wits, but anyone who is familiar with the series knows that she has plenty of those!

Interestingly, having read other reviews of this book, it seems that people who have enjoyed previous novels in the series have been somewhat disappointed in this one. For me it is the other way around; the last few novels have been underwhelming for me, but this one was much more enjoyable. The mystery itself was not as enjoyable as Phryne’s experience of circus life. Here we meet a different Phryne – going by the name Fern, she is vulnerable, unhappy and an outsider among the circus folk, and I did enjoy reading about that. The mystery itself was an intriguing one although I felt that the solving of it was rushed and somewhat unsatisfactory – interestingly I remember thinking the same about the television adaptation of this particular book. I liked the colour, flamboyance and excitement of the circus atmosphere though, and the story whipped by quickly enough I also loved the young policeman Tommy Harris – I wish he had been a character in the television series.

Overall, if you are a fan of this series, for my money this is one of the best so far.

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