A Question of Death: An Illustrated Phryne Fisher Treasury

Written by Kerry Greenwood
Review by Helene Williams

Fans of the inimitable Phryne Fisher will rejoice in this cornucopia of short stories, recipes, lists of Phryne’s favorite things, and other tidbits about the life of this female James Bond. For those readers who have yet to experience Greenwood’s fearless bon vivant detective, this volume is a great introduction to many of the characters who inhabit the Phryne Fisher series. Uppermost in that character list is Melbourne, Australia, in the 1920s: both sophisticated and seedy, it provides the backdrop to Phryne’s adventures. It also reflects the class struggles which are at the heart of many of the stories, from dock workers to the wealthy elite.

Greenwood notes that she uses short stories as tryouts for cast members, to decide whether she wants to live with them for a whole novel; included in this volume is “Carnival,” which is the basis for the full-length Blood and Circuses. The volume is colorfully illustrated in great style by Beth Norling and is a treat to browse for the drawings in the margins as well as the full-page depictions of the glamorous Phryne.