DEAD MAN'S CHEST - Kerry Greenwood

Reviewed By
Karen Chisholm

Despite constantly "bragging" that we live about an hour from just about anywhere... it does mean that every trip in the car do to anything takes a while.  We've recently turned to audio books to fill in the hours of dodging kangaroos and potholes and the most recent that we've been listening to is DEAD MAN'S CHEST by Kerry Greenwood.  Number 18 (good grief.. really!) of the Phyrne Fisher series, the audio version is read particularly well by Stephanie Daniel who does an excellent job of individual accents for each of the characters - and there is a lot of characters in this book, many of them are new to the series.

That is probably because Phryne, companion Dot, daughters Ruth and Jane and dog Molly are on holidays in Queenscliff having to deal with missing servants, cleared out pantries, lost dogs, no cook or kitchen maid, an errand boy, surrealists on one side and a rather overbearing lady and her son and his rather nasty friends on the other, a mean old lady over the road who watches everything, her companion and... well lots of things really.

DEAD MAN'S CHEST is classic Phryne Fisher, albeit without a few of the normal extended household from Melbourne - but with the nice additions of some quite colourful locals to keep the story moving.  The sub-plot of this book is the phantom hair snipper terrorising the young ladies of Queenscliff by sneaking up behind them and pinching their plaits - who eventually seems to be involved in something much more violent.  But the main plot is the missing cook and butler from the house in which Phryne's family are holidaying.  This normally reliable, staid and serious couple just don't seem the sort to up and disappear - particularly not the sort to leave their much loved little dog behind.  Phryne investigates, Ruth gets her long held desire to be a cook, Jane finds a library full of books, and the possibility of smuggling and other nefarious goings on brings Dot's much loved policeman fiancé to town so everyone is happy.

As light entertainment, particularly willing away the hours on the road, Phryne Fisher books work well.  There are enough touches of humour to keep the driver and passenger's awake and involved in the story, the stories aren't the most taxing of plots to follow so occasional interruptions when not driving aren't the end of the world and the antics of everyone in Phyrne's family keep your interest no matter how long it takes to work your way through the book.

Phyrne Fisher books are not my normal reading fare - but we've found that as audio with the wonderful reading style of Stephanie Daniel and the excellent production from Bolinda Books - they are becoming increasingly popular car listening.


Year of Publication
Book Number (in series)

Travelling at high speed in her beloved Hispano-Suiza accompanied by her maid and trusted companion Dot, her two adoptive daughters Jane and Ruth and their dog Molly, The Hon Miss Phryne Fisher is off to Queenscliff. She'd promised everyone a nice holiday by the sea with absolutely no murders, but when they arrive at their rented accommodation that doesn't seem likely at all. An empty house, a gang of teenage louts, a fisherboy saved, and the mystery of a missing butler and his wife seem to lead inexorably towards a hunt for buried treasure by the sea. But what information might the curious Surrealists be able to contribute? Phryne knows to what depths people will sink for greed but with a glass of champagne in one hand and a pearl-handled Beretta in the other, no-one is getting past her.  

Review DEAD MAN'S CHEST - Kerry Greenwood
Karen Chisholm
Tuesday, July 12, 2011

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