Genres: Crime, Historical Fiction
I received this book via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
I love the Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries series, so when I saw this book on Netgalley, I just had to read it! I was pretty psyched when I saw it got approved, as you can imagine.
The divine Phryne Fisher leads another dance of intrigue. Seven Australian soldiers, carousing in Paris in 1918, unknowingly witness a murder and their presence has devastating consequences. Ten years later, two are dead … under very suspicious circumstances.
Phryne’s wharfie mates, Bert and Cec, appeal to her for help. They were part of this group of soldiers in 1918 and they fear for their lives and for those of the other three men. It’s only as Phryne delves into the investigation that she, too, remembers being in Montparnasse on that very same day.
While Phryne is occupied with memories of Montparnasse past and the race to outpace the murderer, she finds troubles of a different kind at home. Her lover, Lin Chung, is about to be married. And the effect this is having on her own usually peaceful household is disastrous.
The Honorable Phryne Fisher isn’t your typical detective – she’s a sassy, smart and sophisticated private investigator. If you are new to her, her personality and lack of scruples might make you raise your eyebrows, and I particularly love it. Kerry Greenwood isn’t shy to address feminist concerns from 1928 that most times still apply for nowadays, and the irreverent Miss Fisher doesn’t measure words for it.
With this book series, the main character is as important as the story: if you don’t like Miss Fisher, I doubt you will enjoy the mysteries.
I love how romantic, decadent and interesting the setting of the books are, placed in Melbourne during the 1920s. In Murder in Montparnasse, there are a few storylines to follow: where is Elizabeth and who kidnapped her? Who is murdering Bert and Cec’s friends? Will Mr. and Mrs. Butler leave? Each storyline is independent from each other and are equally intriguing, in my opinion.
There are a lot of flashbacks to Miss Fisher’s memories of Paris post-war. Although very interesting to see her background story as a young woman who served in the war, drove ambulances and was a muse for famous painters, the transition between present and past was a little to unclear and too frequent for me. It broke the rhythm of the story. I was, however, very pleased with the mysteries and their conclusions, loved Greenwood’s witty and sassy writing and the personality of each character. Despite being a light read, Greenwood doesn’t make light of serious issues at all and doesn’t romanticize poverty, abusive relationships and so on. And yet, that doesn’t make the reading heavy at all – just matter-of-fact. I really enjoyed that!
The differences to the TV series rely on the characters as well as the plot: it’s like seeing an alternate universe of the episode with slightly different people and slightly different things going on. Phryne is younger in the books, Inspector Jack Robinson is a happily married man who doesn’t have a sharp jawline or smoldering looks, Hugh is a tall and strong young man, Mr. Butler has a wife who works in the house too, etc…
(this scene is not in the book and I’m not ok with it)
I had a lot of fun with this novel, loved it a lot and this definitely convinced me to buy the books of my favorite stories from Miss Fisher.
I recommend this book very much! It was a fun and engaging read, Miss Fisher has a vibrant, sassy personality and the 1920s in Australia is a wonderful setting. If you’re interested in her novels, maybe start with another book though, as this one has many flashbacks to Phryne’s past, which is more interesting if you’re invested in the character already. Trigger warnings: abusive relationships, physical abuse. I don’t indicate it for a young audience.