Raisins and Almonds Audio CD – Audiobook, CD, Unabridged
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From Publishers Weekly
The mysterious strychnine poisoning of scholarly Jewish immigrant Simon Michaels leads to one of the more complex and somber cases in the career of Greenwood's Australian Jazz Age amateur sleuth Phryne Fisher (Urn Burial, etc.). Fearing that the killing may signal a rise in anti-Semitism, affluent community leader Benjamin Abrahams hires Fisher to clear the name of his tenant, bookseller Sylvia Lee. Fisher, only slightly distracted by Benjamin's devastatingly handsome son, quickly exonerates Lee and dashes off in pursuit of the theory that Michaels was killed for a coded message that might be related to the local Zionist movement. Compared with some of the other entries in Greenwood's popular series, the mood is more serious and the identity of the murderer more mysterious, but fans will have no cause for complaint. (Sept.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Australian social pillar Phryne Fisher's penchant for offbeat lovers involves her in a case that requires the close study of Judaism.Anyone would enjoy dancing with handsome young Simon Abrahams. But that tango isn't close enough for Simon's wealthy father, who wants Phryne Fisher (The Green Mill Murder, 2007, etc.) to investigate the arsenic death of a young student in a bookshop owned by Sylvia Lee, the suspect arrested by Phryne's pal DI Jack Robinson. With the help of her companion Dot, Phryne quickly satisfies herself that Miss Lee is innocent and that the student was killed while looking for something hidden in a book at her shop. The victim has left behind papers written in an obscure Hebrew code and pictures that relate to alchemy. In order to interpret them, Phryne must immerse herself in a world foreign to her, picking up a little Yiddish, interviewing students and a rabbi, learning about refugees, pogroms and Zionism, and along the way enjoying chicken soup and gefilte fish. Since someone clearly feels the information in the coded message is worth killing for, Phryne and her friends, old and new, must crack the code. The clever heroine manages to carry on an affair with Simon, placate his doting mother, improve her knowledge of all things Jewish and ultimately solve a tricky and dangerous case.Another smashing tale of mystery and manners between the world wars. (Kirkus Reviews) --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.See all Product Description
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Top Customer Reviews
She is free and liberated, and full of compassion for her fellow MEN and women. Love the character can't wait for the next book to come my way..
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Simon's father asks Phryne to investigate the strange death of a young religious student in a bookshop owned and operated by one Miss Lee in a property she rents from Simon's father. She is accused of the murder. Phryne follows the usual course in the investigation, using all her wiles and helpers--her maid Dot, Bert and Cec the Wobbly cab drivers and Inspector Robinson. The task is complicated by all kinds of considerations, including alchemy, mysticism and politics, including Zionism. Phryne has to learn all of the nuances, and even begins to speak a little Yiddish.
While a mystery, the story takes on a very different flavor from that of other novels in the series. It is not only entertaining in the customary manner of the other books in this series, but is informative and the unexpected descriptions of Yiddish culture are authentic.
The following quotation is, of course, a "sample of one", but the sort of cozy readers for whom it is provided will know exactly if this book is for them: "She was naked: even her head was bare of the ostrich feather fillet...'Oh, my nymph,' he gasped. 'Nereid, I'm yours.' In fairness, it was certainly meant to be humorous, but, as Anna Russell says, "Now I ask you...".
I will not be reading any more Phryne Fisher books, and so I will never know if the author's frequent reference to menstruation is a permanent fixation, or just something she uses to decorate this book.
For more information, read the excellent review by Ivonne on this site.
While Lin is out of town, Phryne finds a new lad... and he brings her into the Jewish community (to a point), with all of its complications... including a mysterious murder for which a bookstore owner is being blamed.
This one is balanced well- we get to spend some time with her various friends and household members, as well as exploring the various mysteries raised. In many ways, this is one of the tighter novels I've read so far in the series, and it's all the better for that!
Very recommended for period Australia, mysteries, and Miss Fisher's utter fabulousess!
Unfortunately, that's not "Raisins and Almonds." It's not that author Kerry Greenwood can't effectively and smoothly splice history lessons into her Phryne Fisher novels: She's done so in the past, particularly in Death at Victoria Dock: Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries, which examined anarchism in 1920s Australia, and The Green Mill Murder: Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries, which provides a glimpse into life in the untamed, breath-taking Snowy River country during the same time period. However, in "Raisins and Almonds," Greenwood is so taken with teaching us about the Kabbalah, medieval Jewish mysticism, kosher dietary laws, early Zionism and Jews in early 20th century Australia that the history lesson gets in the way of the story. Greenwood even provides a Yiddish glossary at the end of the novel, a two-page bibliography "[i]f anyone would like to duplicate my research" (uh, what's the likelihood of that???) and spends a painstaking two pages elucidating the difference between a schlemiel and a schlimazl, for heavens' sake! At times, the Jews emerge as stereotypes (e.g., Julia Abrahams, the mother of Phryne's newfound Jewish lover, as the archetypical suffocating Jewish mother and Rabbi Elijah as the unapproachable Kabbalah mystic). Greenwood's depiction of virgin Simon Abrahams as a fascinating lover is more part and parcel of Greenwood's adolescent fascination with early 20th century Australian Jewry. Seriously, how probable is it that the experienced and experimental Phryne Fisher is going to be impressed by a mama's boy who has never been with a woman? Greenwood is so determined to provide a glowing portrait of the resilient and adaptable Ashkenazi Jews of early 20th century Australia in "Raisins and Almonds" that, ironically, they emerge as two-dimensional characters.
For those interested in a more three-dimensional -- and better interwoven -- portrayal of Jews in history than you'll get in "Raisins and Almonds," please try Sharan Newman's Catherine LeVendeur series about Jews in 12th century Paris; Ariana Franklin's excellent Mistress of the Art of Death, which elucidates the lives of Jews in 12th century Sicily and England; King's and Dorothy and Sidney Rosen's Belle Appleman series, which is set in Depression Era Boston. As with the early Rabbi David Small novels of the late Harry Kemelman, Faye Kellerman's Rina Lazarus series, and King's Mary Russell novels, these provide an education about the Jewish way of life without swamping the mystery aspect of the novel.
Now, how does the mystery in "Raisins and Almonds" stack up? Even on that level, the novel, the ninth in the Phryne Fisher series, doesn't compare with any of Greenwood's previous novels. A yeshiva student who goes by the Anglicized name of Simon Michaels (actual name: Shimeon Ben Mikhael, an immigrant from Salonika) is poisoned while in a bookstore, and the proprietress gets the blame. A leader of the Jewish community (Simon Abrahams' father Benjamin) hires Phryne to catch the real murderer. As usual, Phryne enlists her faithful maid and companion, Dot Williams; her two "red ragger" pals, Cecil and Bert; and her adoptive daughters to help her discern who really killed Michaels. Usually, the result is a delightful and clever mystery; however, here Greenwood just seems to be going through the motions. You'll figure out how Michaels was poisoned long before Phryne or Detective Inspector John "Call me Jack, everyone does" Robinson do. The identity of the true murderer will, I admit, come as a surprise, and there's a suspenseful climax. Even so, without the unrelieved and clumsy history lessons, the pedestrian "Raisins and Almonds" might have risen to three stars, but no more. Raisins and Almonds is no Cocaine Blues (Phryne Fisher Mysteries (Paperback)), Flying Too High : a Phryne Fisher Mystery, The Green Mill Murder: A Phryne Fisher Mystery or Blood and Circuses (Phryne Fisher Mysteries (Paperback)). If you're looking to skip one, this is the one.
Benjamin asks Phryne for a favor. A different Simon, a Jew from Salonika was poisoned at Lee's Books New and Secondhand Shop. The evidence was swept away by the owner Miss Sylvia Lee and the certifying physician Dr. Stein. The police arrest Miss Lee, as the victim owed her money and she is the only person who could easily have slipped strychnine into his tea and clean the cup afterward. Phryne charges him 10 "oy" quid a day with the understanding that she will seek the truth which could be a Jew killing a Jew. As she investigates, Phryne digs deep into the Jewish community in Australia where chicken soup cures most everything and RAISINS AND ALMONDS are a tradition, but can either solve a murder with political implications?
The latest Phryne Fisher historical whodunit is a great period piece that brings to life the Jewish culture in Australia in the late 1920s. Phryne remains a unique protagonist who defies society rules for single women as she does what she wants flaunting society's restrictive dictates. The mystery is clever with a few twists and the way the sleuth finally figures out the case is brilliant as she understands human nature. Readers will appreciate this vivid deep mystery but never look at RAISINS AND ALMONDS the same way as before digesting Phryne Fisher's newest caper.
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