Monday, June 14, 2010

Cocaine Blues by Kerry Greenwood

When I am looking for an escapist read, I often look to the historical mystery genre. This week, I will review some of my favorite titles in this genre. They are all the first books in their respective series so if you love them, there are more titles for you to enjoy.

Cocaine Blues is the first in the Phryne Fisher series by Kerry Greenwood. This mystery takes place in the late 1920's in Melbourne, Australia. Greenwood does a wonderful job of immersing the reader in the time and place. I relished her descriptions of the clothes Phryne wears: long strings of pearls, enamel brooches, and fabulous flapper dresses. The political climate in Melbourne also features heavily in the story, and this helps to immerse the reader in the setting.

Phryne (pronounced Fry-knee) is an independent woman ahead of her time who squeezes in plenty of partying with her sleuthing. Phryne is tired of her high society life in England and is thrilled to move to Melbourne to investigate the scoundrel son-in-law of a Colonel. Once she checks into the Windsor Hotel, she is immediately caught up in a mystery involving drug smugglers, poison, and police corruption. Many of the characters introduced in Cocaine Blues become regulars in the series. My personal favorites are the quirky duo Bert, an opinionated communist cabbie, and Cec, Bert's warm-hearted truck driver friend.

This offbeat and fast-paced title will appeal to mystery fans who enjoy stories set in the Roaring Twenties. Readers must not be shy of a little steam for Phryne enjoys her share of men. Cocaine Blues is available in print and audiobook formats in the VBPL catalog. Another mystery series set in this time period with a more subdued main character is the Maisie Dobbs series by Jacqueline Winspear.

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