The Hon. Phryne Fisher, languid and slightly bored at the start of 1929, has been engaged to find out if the antique-shop-owning son of a Pre-Raphaelite model has died by homicide or suicide. He had some strange friends - a Balkan adventuress, a dilettante with a penchant for antiquities, a Classics professor, a medium, and a mysterious supplier who arrives after dark on a motorbike. Simultaneously, she is asked to discover the fate of the lost illegitimate child of a rich old lady, to the evident dislike of the remaining relatives.
With the help of her sister Beth, the cab drivers Bert and Cec, and even her two adoptive daughters, Phryne follows eerie leads that bring her face-to-face with the conquest of Jerusalem by General Allenby and the Australian Light Horse, kif smokers, spirit guides, pirate treasure maps, and ghosts.
Everyone calls the drowning of young Melbourne antiques dealer Augustine Manifold a suicide except for his distraught mother and Phyrne Fisher, the heroine of Greenwood's long-running series set in 1920s Australia (Murder in the Dark, etc.). Brainy, beautiful, blue-blooded and rich to boot, the enviably stylish PI somehow manages to juggle the demands of two adopted daughters, an exotic lover and a full social calendar with multiple cases, including a hunt for the illegitimate heir to a fortune all while rarely missing a morsel of her cook's inspired creations. Greenwood keeps the action moving as swiftly as milady's Hispano-Suiza, save for the initially confusing flashbacks at the end of many chapters that eventually become pieces in the solution of the Manifold puzzle. But there's no quibbling with the author's ability to create a sybaritic piece of period escapism. As Phryne's mates would say approvingly: Bonzer!