Phryne Fisher, the quintessential independent, daring woman of the 1920’s is back in this second entry in the popular series. If you’re a mystery reader and you haven’t heard of Phryne, you’ve been living under a rock. Greenwood’s first entry in the series – Cocaine Blues – gained modest popularity a few years ago, then Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries appeared on television with the incomparable Essie Davis in the lead role and Phryne claimed her rightful place on the throne of Aussie mysteries. Since then, Greenwood has pumped out close to 20 Miss Fisher mysteries.
I’d read Cocaine Blues and found it a passable mystery with a plucky heroine who I thought had a lot of potential to become a very memorable character. In Flying Too High, the author continues the character development while Phryne takes on two cases and solves them both neatly in 156 pages. First, she is retained by a distraught woman who fears her son will kill her husband. When the husband ends up with his head bashed in, Phryne steps in and saves the day. At the same time, she is also retained to find a young child who has been kidnapped. Within a few chapters, Phryne has solves both cases and is free to concentrate on seducing a handsome young doctor.
The mysteries are really incidental here: it’s Miss Fisher who takes center stage. Whether she’s walking on the wing of a plane, having unexpected sex with an Italian sculptor in the middle of the afternoon, tying herself to the back of a car driven by kidnappers, or shooting one of them neatly through the wrist – it is clear that Phryne is determined to live her life on her own terms. She is Nancy Drew mashed up with Madonna, and she is damned fun!
The books are different enough from the TV series that reading them isn’t a let down. My only issue with this one is the undercurrent of racism (Phryne actually uses the word “pickaninny”) which I suppose is indicative of the time period. I found it unnecessary and offensive.
Flying Too High is the first book I received in my latest postal book club, #WhoDunItByMail through the magnificent app, Litsy. There are about 30 people participating, and we all mail the next book on the 1st of every month. If you haven’t checked out Litsy, go get the app right now. I’m PatriciaU there, so follow me!
If you’re looking for a quick, light, entertaining reading experience, I recommend you spend some time with Phryne Fisher.