Work Title: Death at Victoria Dock
Work Author(s): Kerry Greenwood
Poisoned Pen Press
176 pages, Hardcover $24.95
Reviewer: Edward Morris
In the author's Phryne Fisher mysteries, the chaser is infinitely more engaging than the chase. For the benefit of those not yet acquainted with her charms, Fisher is a rich, stylish, sexually liberated PI who plies her trade in Melbourne, Australia, during the late 1920s. She is---to coin the most obvious phrase---an unflappable flapper, one whose boldness could make a Jay Gatsby blanch. (And like Gatsby, her current opulence conceals a background of severe deprivation.)
There are two puzzles Fisher must attend to as this buoyantly breezy tale unwinds. The first is forced on her by accident---chancing upon the shooting of a handsome young Latvian immigrant (who dies in her arms barely three pages into the book). The second, which she is hired to solve, involves the disappearance of the teenage daughter of a wealthy businessman, a luckless chap who is additionally plagued by a rebellious son (the missing girl's twin brother) and the unmet desires of his second and much younger wife.
It soon becomes clear that the Latvian's death is somehow connected with the political struggles of the local dockworkers, whose ranks have been infiltrated by an array of leftwing factions ranging from communists to anarchists. Some of the latter, it turns out, aspire to further their cause by violent bank robbery. While pursuing this lead and that, Fisher, whose fuse is short in the best of times, is beset by yet another indignity---the kidnapping of Dot, her loyal and long-suffering maid.
So how's a lady to satisfy her, um, frolicsome needs amid such...