Read Harder: Cocaine Blues

8 02 2015

Do you know about the Miss Fisher Murder Mysteries? It is a fantastically fun Australian crime series set in the 1920s. Miss Phryne Fisher is a very modern, wealthy woman making inquiries and solving cases in Melbourne. With a wardrobe to die for and some forward-leaning morals, Miss Fisher makes quite the impression on Melbourne society, both high and low. You can find Miss Fisher, the TV show, on Netflix.

For the Read Harder independent press challenge, I was delighted to pick up a digital copy of Kerry Greenwood’s original Miss Fisher book, Cocaine Blues. The book is the basis for the first episode in the TV series, so you might want to hold off on watching the series until you have whipped your way through the book.

In this book, Phryne leaves England to investigate the mysterious illness afflicting the daughter of an acquaintance. Along the way, she stumbles across a cocaine ring and a dangerous illegal abortionist.

Greenwood’s style is brisk but evocative, full of interesting 1920s and/or Australian slang. I found myself looking up such exciting terms as “gasper” and “camiknickers.” The language really sets the scene, including some particularly gorgeous descriptions of Phryne’s fashions.

Fans of the TV series will still find plenty of new tidbits to entertain, such as a bit of interesting backstory on Dot, Phryne’s maid, and the circumstances that led Phryne from destitution to opulence.

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