I really shouldn't get all impressed by a new cover, but having no idea whatsoever of who Essie Davis is, I was really pleased to see her popup on the re-release of Kerry Greenwood's first Phryne Fisher book COCAINE BLUES. I think the casting people for the upcoming ABC TV series may just have done a very good job!
Re-releasing the books is an excellent idea, not just because of the TV tie in, but also because it gives old fans, as well as a new audience a chance to catch up with the opening onslaught of what is now up to 18 or something books, from which 13 episodes are being filmed. Which is, however you look at it, an astounding number of books.
COCAINE BLUES is the first book in the series, and it is going to be an excellent place to start for new readers - to find out why Phryne arrives back in Australia and becomes a private Detective, how she met up with and subsequently employs her companion / maid Dot and her initial encounters with Bert and Cec. When the books were first released, I confess I was never 100% sure what to make of them, being as they are, substantially different from my normal reading material. But I've now come to realise that part of the attraction of these books is their sense of humour, and their sheer escapism. Now that I've got that idea firmly in my head, I have been going back and starting to reread the series as and when I can, and I am certainly coming to understand the attraction of them more clearly. The TV tie in is just another impetus to keep going with that series revisit.
The Phryne Fisher series is really a combination of sexual frisson, dare-doing, glamorous clothes, outrageous behaviour and slightly manic plots always with Miss Fisher at centre stage, being wonderful, glorious, sexy and fabulous. Light-hearted entertainment, these aren't books that you're going to be reading if you stay firmly on the darker side of crime fiction, but they are books that could work if you're more of a generalist - looking for something entertaining and amusing. Perhaps they have to be read with tongue firmly pressed in cheek, lying on what passes as a chaise lounge in your part of the world; sipping a cocktail of some sort and idly wondering if you can even get hold of a Hispano-Suiza for less than it would cost to hock a whole family tree full of Nannas... but that's the whole point of these books. Delightfully escapist, vaguely absurdist, wonderfully entertaining, Phryne Fisher will be appearing on your TV's very soon. I'd take the chance to catch up with the series now as well if I were you.
Released in all their new finery will be:
Murder on the Ballarat Train
The Green Mill Murder
Death at Victoria Dock
Raisins and Almonds
Murder in the Montparnasse
Away with the Fairies
Queen of the Flowers
Blood and Circuses
Murder in the Dark