Ruddy Gore

Written by Kerry Greenwood
Review by Cassandra Clark

Glamorous Melbourne heiress Phryne Fisher made her debut into the mystery fiction world with Ruddy Gore, originally published in 1995, but available in the US market for the first time in this edition. Miss Fisher lets us know who’s in charge from the opening scene, when she whacks a mugger and rescues an elderly lady on her way to the opera to see a Gilbert & Sullivan production. Her enjoyment of the performance ends abruptly when the actor playing Lord Ruddigore collapses on stage, poisoned. Phryne’s friends on the police force and in the theater allow her free rein to help investigate two mysterious deaths and several unexplained ghostly sightings of a long dead G & S star.

When a locket identifying a foundling orphan enters the plot, Phryne feels that she is caught up in a Gilbert & Sullivan plot. Suspects abound in the company, each more melodramatic than the next. Will the murderer be caught before the Ruddigore Curse closes the play?

An intriguing subplot introduces Phryne to exotically handsome Lin Chung, a silk dealer whose Chinese immigrant family is feuding dangerously with another wealthy merchant clan. Greenwood’s silk stocking whodunit combines detailed research into 1920s Australian theater history with a freewheeling and witty amateur sleuth, termed by one reviewer “Miss Marple’s naughty niece.” It’s about time this delightful series came out in American editions.