Miss Phryne Fisher Investigates - Kerry Greenwood

“Phryne leaned on the ship’s rail. listening to the seagulls announcing that land was near, and watched for the first hint of sunrise. She had put on her lounging robe, of a dramatic oriental pattern of green and gold, an outfit not to be sprung suddenly on invalids or those of nervous tendencies – and she was rather glad that there was no one on deck to be astonished. It was five o’clock in the morning.”

As much as I love the tv series, the book series will not one that I will continue with.

All that I love about the tv series – the 1920s atmosphere, the banter between the characters, the quirky fun bits (like Dr. Mac’s dry sense of humour) – I just can’t get a feel for in the first book.

I get that the book is different and that the characters (and back stories) are different, but I can’t even get a sense of setting (any setting!) from the book.

The writing is sparse and focused on dialogue, and except for whatever clothes people – especially Phryne – are wearing, there seemed to be hardly any description of anything.

This strongly reminded me of the Murder, She Wrote tv tie-ins, which rely on the reader’s knowledge of the series to fill in the missing parts with the knowledge of what the tv series had already communicated – visuals of place and characters. Except of course that the tie-ins were written to correspond with the tv series, which is not the case with the Phryne Fisher book (as the book preceded the tv series and has a slightly different story line and characters).

What’s probably worse than not getting a sense of place – and I was really looking forward to reading about Melbourne in the 1920s! – was that I didn’t even get a sense of the 1920s.

So, yeah, this is where I am glad I got a copy from the library. I still love the tv series, tho. So much so that I consoled my disappointment with the book by re-watching a couple of favourite episodes on Netflix until the wee hours.


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