Cocaine Blues

Written by Kerry Greenwood
Review by Clarissa Harwood

Bored with London society life in the 1920s, Phryne Fisher returns to her native Australia and finds her calling as a lady detective. Her motto is “one must be elegant, whatever the sacrifice,” and she never fails to be exactly that, whether she is driving fast cars, going to bed with attractive men, or climbing fences in dangerous neighbourhoods to nab a murderer.

I came to this book already a fan of the TV series (Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries), and I loved Phryne’s dry humour in the narrator’s voice. The novel also offers enticing tidbits about Phryne’s history as well as that of quirky supporting characters Dot, Dr. MacMillan, Bert, and Cec.

I was disappointed that Phryne is young in the novel. In the TV series, she’s closer to middle age, which is part of her charm. Also disappointing was the minor role of Inspector Jack Robinson: there is no hint of sexual chemistry between him and Phryne in this first instalment. But in every other way, the novel is as entertaining and satisfying as the TV series, and it will delight new readers as well as long-time fans of the irrepressible, intrepid Miss Fisher.