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This cozy murder mystery (280 pages) was published in December of 2005 by Poisoned Pen Press. The book takes you to a manor house in 1920s Australia. Melissa read Urn Burial and loved it; it wouldn't be on our site if she didn't recommend it.
The Phryne Fisher mysteries — both in print and in the TV series Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries — are a bracing combination of cozy-mystery tropes and brazen feminism set in 1928 Melbourne.
Phyrne is all about women’s rights and is firmly anti-discrimination, which makes her an equal-opportunity lover, an openness that leads to all kinds of romantic entanglements. Plus, she’s a glamour girl with a champagne glass in one hand and a lady-like revolver in the other.
In this installment, Phryne and her lover Lin Chung join a house party at an old friend’s estate, a Gothic mansion called Cave House. The house, an amalgamation of several architectural styles at odds with each other, is an eyesore: ‘Even the fog could not disguise the monstrous oddity of Cave House.’
Phryne, the infamous lady detective, is never truly on holiday. Soon, she’s investigating death threats against their host and dealing with a housemaid’s murder — as well as combatting the other guests’ prejudice against her Chinese paramour.
There are suspects aplenty: a military brute and his bullied wife, a sketchy novelist, two young flanneled fools, a wealthy society dame, a spinster, a Polish poet, and a full service staff, including houseman, mechanic, parlourmaid, cook, housekeeper, stableman, chambermaid, two gardeners, and, of course, a butler.
Phyrne’s search for answers takes her into the dungeons of the house and the nearby limestone Buchan caves — with some quality time for romance with the soigné Lin Chun along the way. As only Phryne can, she gets her culprit and her man.
It took determination to be really strange. That, or absinthe before breakfast every day.” — Kerry Greenwood
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