Sunday, November 10, 2013

Murder and Mendelssohn

With the second series of the popular Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries now showing on ABC television there is a wider audience no doubt waiting to read the twentieth book in the Phryne Fisher series by Kerry Greenwood.

When the conductor of a choir is murdered Phryne joins the choir to try and uncover the murderer. However this is not the only murder involving the choir and it become apparent that someone is trying to stop the production of the choral work, Elijah, by Mendelssohn. In the same building Phyrne meets Dr John Wilson, an old friend with whom she worked during the war. John is in Australia with Rupert Sheffield who is on a lecture tour. It soon become apparent that Sheffield and John are in danger as a number of attempts are made on Sheffield's life.

The past relationship between Phryne and John allows the author to provide some of the back-story of Phryne's life before she returned to Australia after the First World War. The lasting effect of the war on individuals is a theme of the book. Phyrne's assorted family and friends, plus Inspector Jack Robinson, also feature in the book assisting in solving the crimes encountered. Phryne also finds time to encourage the relationship between John and Sheffield. The story is set in 1929 when homosexuality was illegal and attitudes to same sex relationships is another theme. Phryne also partakes in a romantic dalliance or two when the opportunity arises.

As Kathy Reich's has shown with her Temperance Brennan (Bones) books it is possible have the main character in the books living a different lifestyle than that portrayed in a television series based on the books. There are may similarities between the Phryne Fisher of the books and the television series but Phryne's attitude to relationships is much freer and varied in the books.

Murder and Mendelssohn is an enjoyable who done it set in Melbourne at the end of the twentieth century. Readers who know Melbourne will be able to identify many of the locations in the book and enjoy the opportunity of, for a short time, experiencing a lifestyle long past.

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