in this entry in the best mystery series in the world, we learn more about phyrne's life before australia. if you have read any of the earlier titles, you will remember comments about her war work.
with great skill, greenwood offers two mysteries: one which links phyrne's and bert's and cec's wartime experiences with 1928 melbourne--former anzacs are being murdered, and there are ties to events in post-world war one paris; one concerning a kidnapped young woman. both mysteries are solved with panache--and realistic (not adolescent, hollywood) emotions.
the mysteries are extremely well handled, but the best part of this book, for me, was the part set in paris. it was a fascinating time, with new ideas, geniuses of all types, incredible energy. this is the paris of hemingway and gertrude stein. (and if you want more, track down the movie 'paris was a woman.')
besides a good puzzle, greenwood gives the reader, in all the books of this series, fascinating australian history, insights into the first world war, the effects on australia of immigration, and changes in social attitudes. this might sound dull, but definitely is not. food and fashion are not neglected. greenwood's range of knowledge is stunning. she writes beautifully, with wonderful turns of phrase.
the greatest attraction phryne has for me is this: she is an adult. she does not suffer from adolescent angst, she has worldly wisdom, and moral courage; she is compentent; she is cultured, but never a snob (who usually aren't really all that cultured or well-bred, or they wouldn't be snobs--snobbery is vulgar); she knows that poverty is not a sin, but it's no great honor either and nor is wealth. while greenwood's plots may borrow some of the fantastic elements of mysteries from between the wars, her character is realistic in her approach. even though she is a fictional character (the daughter peter wimsey and philip marlowe might have had), she's a better role model than the real women pushed by the media.
but enough of that--this is a great mystery, a wonderful read, buy it right this minute.