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Cocaine Blues: A Phryne Fisher Mystery (Paperback)

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Staff Reviews

To all the ladies of indeterminate age I have offended - I proffer this apology. Well most of an apology. Definitely in the realm of thirty percent of an apology…

For several years now I have been recommending the Phryne Fisher series to ladies of indeterminate age. The flaw in this recommendation is not in the books themselves, but in basing my recommendation on a review by someone who I thought was trustworthy in their assessments of books (I am seriously readdressing my confidence in their judgment). Meaning? Up until a couple of weeks ago, I hadn’t read Cocaine Blues myself…

Man, I didn’t know what I was missing! These books are great fun! Cocaine Blues, the first in series, is wonderful. When we meet Miss Fisher, she is approached by an anxious father and mother (family acquaintances) who are worried about their daughter. They think that their daughter’s husband might be poisoning her in order to inherit her money. Miss Fisher, who is at loose ends in England, agrees to the commission and sails to Melbourne (Australia in case you are geography challenged) to investigate.

And investigate she does! Uncovering communists, corrupt cops and cocaine in the execution of her commission - it was one wild ride!

Now this is where I must offer up at least twenty-five percent of an apology. I was under the impression that these books were written in the traditional English cozy style (think Agatha Christie only in Australia), a subgenre famous for its lack of onstage violence or sex and strong language. Well, those of you who have read Miss Fisher must be giggling a little by now - since Miss Fisher breaks all these rules! She has few qualms with following the investigation (or her own fancy) wherever it may lead, whether it is letting a Russian dancer seduce her, perpetrating revenge or cracking a smuggling ring - she does it all on her own terms. Which is great fun to read!

There is swearing, drinking, sex, violence and much more…and yet these books are charming. Greenwood does a great job of dancing on and around the line keeping them both tasteful and shocking - without becoming gratuitous. The main mystery itself is well worked and plotted, perhaps as a veteran reader it is a hair obvious, however all the smaller mysteries are a bit more obscure and well executed. Greenwood also does a great job in creating an array of people whom you become interested in reading about and getting to know better in future installments. I managed to devour the first five of the series in rapid succession before I had to forcibly slow myself down or I would read them too fast!

Here’s where I am offering fifteen percent of an apology to all the relatives and to the ladies themselves (of indeterminate age) who came in looking for nice soft cozies, books where “ah shucks!” is the strongest epithet used and a peck on the cheek considered scandalous. Readers who might have been a bit shocked when they started reading about Miss Fisher’s exploits. Now that I have read these delightful, well polished mysteries I have a hard time even offering up ten percent of an apology! Especially since I find myself in a position where my formerly uninformed opinion of the books was good, now that I have read them my good opinion has been strengthen to great!

So here it is - To all the ladies of indeterminate age & their families I have offended by offering an excellent book (Cocaine Blues) which did not follow the conventions of the fiction I thought I was suggesting - I offer five percent of an apology and the assurance that in the future I will place a caveat (ie. telling them its lack of coziness) on this great series when I place Cocaine Blues in their hands and tell them they should read it!

— Amber


This is where it all started The first classic Phryne Fisher mystery, featuring our delectable heroine, cocaine, communism and adventure. Phryne leaves the tedium of English high society for Melbourne, Australia, and never looks back. The London season is in full fling at the end of the 1920s, but the Honorable Phryne Fisher--she of the green-gray eyes, diamant garters and outfits that should not be sprung suddenly on those of nervous dispositions--is rapidly tiring of the tedium of arranging flowers, making polite conversations with retired colonels, and dancing with weak-chinned men. Instead, Phryne decides it might be rather amusing to try her hand at being a lady detective in Melbourne, Australia. Almost immediately from the time she books into the Windsor Hotel, Phryne is embroiled in mystery: poisoned wives, cocaine smuggling rings, corrupt cops and communism--not to mention erotic encounters with the beautiful Russian dancer, Sasha de Lisse--until her adventure reaches its steamy end in the Turkish baths of Little Lonsdale Street.

About the Author

Kerry Greenwood was born in the Melbourne suburb of Footscray and after wandering far and wide, she returned to live there. She has degrees in English and Law from Melbourne University and was admitted to the legal profession on the 1st April 1982, a day which she finds both soothing and significant. Kerry has written twenty novels, a number of plays, including "The Troubadours" with Stephen D'Arcy, is an award-winning children's writer and has edited and contributed to several anthologies. The Phryne Fisher series (pronounced Fry-knee, to rhyme with briny) began in 1989 with "Cocaine Blues" which was a great success. Kerry has written sixteen books in this series with no sign yet of Miss Fisher hanging up her pearl-handled pistol. Kerry says that as long as people want to read them, she can keep writing them. In 2003 Kerry Won the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Australian Association.

Praise For…

"With Phryne Fisher, the indefatigable Greenwood has invented the character-you-fall-in-love-with genre." --The Australian

"The tricky plot, lively writing, likable flapper sleuth, and superb sense of period will delight readers who have already read (or will be motivated to seek) later books in the series already issued by Poisoned Pen."  --Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine

"The growing American audience for Phryne Fisher, Australian author Greenwood's independent 1920s female sleuth, will be delighted that her diverting first mystery is finally available in the U.S."  --Publisher's Weekly

“This series is the best Australian import since Nicole Kidman, and Phryne is the flashiest new female sleuth in the genre.”   —Booklist starred review of Away with the Fairies

Product Details
ISBN: 9781590583852
ISBN-10: 159058385X
Publisher: Poisoned Pen Press
Publication Date: April 2007
Pages: 175
Language: English
Series: Phryne Fisher Mysteries (Paperback)