What a delightful read! Think of a classic mystery spoof transplanted to Australia, complete with an eccentric rich heroine, her Chinese lover, a ghastly manor house filled with guests and secret passages and cut off from the world, then add upstairs/downstairs characters, including an elderly knitting spinster PI called Mary Mead—and you have the perfect makings for a boisterous romp.
Phryne Fisher, visiting MP and free spirit, finds the body of one of the maids. However, the body disappears, and the hunt for it begins through the huge, ugly mansion before spilling over to the neighboring caves. On the way are traps, conspiracies, and the mysterious scattering of the burial urns, ending with the final expected confrontation of all involved parties and the unveiling of the secrets.
The writing is crisp, vivid, and very much in tune to the mood, music and clothes of the Roaring Twenties. I smiled my way through the book, which acts as a perfect sherbet after a darker novel. I now fully intend to track down the other adventures of Phryne and urge the readers to do the same.