Cocaine Blues is the first in the Phryne Fisher Mysteries series of books by Kerry Greenwood.
The book begins in London, where the Hon. Phryne Fisher, using all her intelligence, foils a robbery at her father’s dinner party. On witnessing her quick assessment of what was going on, she soon finds herself on her way home to Melbourne in the employ of Colonel Harper and his wife. They have asked if she can make some discreet enquiries after their daughter, Lydia, who seems to be poorly and they suspect her husband, Mr Andrews is the cause.
Once Phryne is ensconced in the prestigious Windsor Hotel, she is very quickly introduced to the rich and well-to-do of Melbourne society, as well as the not-so-rich, including the cabbies Bert and Cec, Dot who becomes her maid, as well as the hard-on-their luck Russian dancing troupe, Princesse de Grasse and her grandchildren, Sasha and Elli de Lisse.
What started out as a simple investigation into the home life of Lydia Andrews turns dangerous as Phryne is drawn into the murky world of cocaine smuggling and backstreet abortions. But can can Phryne untangle the threads and succeed where the local police have failed?
As I mentioned in my review of Except the Dying by Maureen Jennings, if I have yet to read a book before it has been adapted for TV or film, I often put off reading it for fear of spending my time making comparisons rather than enjoying the story. This is another example where I have done that, having been introduced to the fabulous Phryne Fisher in the Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries TV series, and again where I needn’t have feared, and I am so glad that I gave the book a chance.
The story is full of 1920’s period charm. The characters are colourful and engaging and the setting captivating. The dialogue as well as the plot flows smoothly and effortlessly, creating a story that holds your attention until the end.
Phryne Fisher makes a wonderful detective; she is classy, sassy, witty and smart. She is certainly one of my favourite detectives and I hope to get round to reading the second book in the series, Flying Too High, soon.