Unnatural Habits

Written by Kerry Greenwood
Review by Helene Williams

The always-indomitable and independently wealthy sleuth Phryne Fisher and her cast of sidekicks and supporters is back in this romp through the seamy side of Melbourne in 1929.

Young reporter Polly Kettle has gone missing while investigating the disappearance of several pregnant women working at the Magdalen Laundry run by the Abbotsford convent. As her line of inquiry had taken her to some houses of ill-repute in a dangerous part of town, the police think it’s only a matter of time before they find her body. Phryne, however, senses a bigger mystery, and her assistant, adopted children, and various hangers-on all make themselves useful, ferreting out tidbits of information to piece together quite a nasty picture involving pirates, white slavery, and ill-behaved nuns. Because it’s Phryne, however, readers will know that there is also likely to be a dash of true love, several well-worded comeuppances, and a lot of excellent food along the way. There’s also a bit of madcap action on not one, but two boats, involving the aforementioned pirates and a gun: it’s everything you could want on a hot, humid Australian summer night!