Monday, May 22, 2017

Murder in the Dark: Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries

Greetings!  I hope everyone is having a lovely day.  Kerry Greenwood has written twenty Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries (originally listed as A Phyne Fisher Mystery series).  The series starts with Cocaine Blues and ends with Murder and Mendelsshon. Some books are better than others. 

Murder in the Dark by Kerry Greenwood is sixteenth book in Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries.  It is Christmastime much to Jane and Ruth’s delight.  The Butler’s, Dot, Bert, and Cec will be spending Christmas Day with their families.  Phryne’s sister, Eliza and her companion will be spending the day with Phryne and the girls.  Phryne has received an invitation to Gerald and Isabella Templar’s The Last Best Party of 1928.  After receiving a threatening Christmas card warning her off from the party, Phryne decides to attend.  The next day the family is opening gifts and there is one last gift for Phryne that had been left on the front porch.  There is a lovely cuff inside with a venomous snake wrapped around it.  Thankfully, Ember (the cat) kills the slimy creature before it can harm anyone.  Phryne is dropped off at the party, and she sets out to explore.  It is a massive affair that will last from December 27 through January 1 with costumed events each evening along with music (Nerine is with us once again), polo matches, cocktails and other recreational (lascivious) activities.  Gerald requests to speak with Phryne privately.  He has been receiving threatening letters and needs her assistance discovering this perpetrator’s identity.  Later Phryne discovers that Gerald and Isabella adopted children and Isabella’s adoptive daughter, Marigold has disappeared.  It is assumed that she ran away.  But one evening, Tarquin, Gerald’s adoptive son, goes for drinks and disappears.  Phryne investigates and finds that Tarquin has been taken. But, the evildoer has left a riddle behind on a luggage tag.  Phryne must unravel each riddle in this scavenger hunt to find the next clue.   Will Phryne get to the end in time to save the victims?

Murder in the Dark is set at Christmas.  We are told that it is Phryne’s first Christmas in Australia. Then everything that has transpired in the first fifteen books has occurred in less than twelve months.  Does anyone else find this a little odd?  I did like that we caught a glimpse into the lives of Bert, Cec, Dot, and the Butler’s away from Miss Fisher’s household.  The party is an over-the-top affair with many varied activities.  Readers need to remember that the story is set in 1928 when recreational drugs flowed freely and were not illegal.  The mystery was complex, and I do not believe many readers will figure out the whole solution (I am being cryptic on purpose).  I particularly enjoyed the riddles.  They were fun to decipher.  I give Murder in the Dark 3 out of 5 stars.  I did feel that the book was a slightly too long.  The book needed more focus and editing (it would have certainly helped with the books slow pacing).  Kerry Greenwood was rather wordy.  We are given descriptions of the clothes, food, costumes, house, grounds, tents, games, erotic scenes and so on.  Several recitations and songs are also included in the story (I skimmed through them).  I wish there had been less focus on the party with its varied activities.  Since Murder in the Dark was a Christmas novel, I would have liked it to be more Christmas themed (instead of a hedonistic party).  I did find the solution to the twin’s financial woes to be creative but unrealistic (might have been some eye rolling).  I did like the afterward included by the author.  

I will be reviewing Bringing Them Home by Barbara Hinske on Tuesday.  It is the fifth book in the Rosemont series.  Thank you for visiting.  Take care and Happy Reading!

The Avid Reader

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