Cocaine Blues has a fearless femme fatale in the lead. Phryne Fisher is named after a buxom courtesan. She flies planes and races cars, all in the post war era. And she is ready to travel to Australia just to solve a case.
Phryne Fisher stops a burglary in its tracks and impresses her guest, a celebrated colonel. He hires her to find out what is wrong with his recently married daughter. Phryne agrees to go to Australia, although under cover, using her own money, which she now has plenty of. On reaching Melbourne, Phryne revisits some childhood memories and firmly establishes herself in a grand hotel. Her friend, a lady doctor runs a clinic for women. Phryne is entangled in several issues even before she meets the subject of her investigation.
Phryne soon establishes that the girl she has to protect is smart but is playing dumb. Her husband is a fool. There is a Russian Princess with her own agenda. Meanwhile Butcher George is conducting illegal abortions and has killed many a girl. Phryne rescues a girl from the street and offers her the job of personal maid. Now she is chasing goons and having some illicit fun on the side. It is the 20’s after all, and Phryne is no Victorian miss. Phryne finds herself framed for drug possession and narrowly escapes attempts on her life. But she is as cool as a cucumber, plotting the downfall of the villains.
Fashion lovers will enjoy reading about Phryne’s elaborate costumes. Downton Abbey has given us an idea of the fashion of the 1920s, and it is easier to imagine necklaces that fall up to the knees, and short hair with dangly earrings. Phryne Fisher is unflappable and definitely joins the rank of my favorite women sleuths.
Mystery lovers who love a classic setting will love Cocaine Blues. I have recently been reading many books set in Australia, and this one was fun too. Phryne is definitely no Miss Marple. But she will provide you nonstop action and adrenaline and have you turning pages.