The circus is in town for St Kilda's first Flower Festival, which includes a parade. And who should be Queen of said Flowers but the Honourable Phryne Fisher? She has dresses to purchase, cinemas to visit, and agreeable cocktails to drink.
However, one of her flower maidens is unstable and has vanished. So Phryne investigates, trudging through the underworld with the help of Bert, Cec, her little beretta, an old flame from Orkney, the owner of the most exclusive brothel in St Kilda, and several elephants.
But when her own adopted daughter Ruth goes missing, Phryne is determined that nothing will stand in the way of her retrieving her lost child.
Crime strikes close to home in this latest installment of Greenwood's charming series (The Castlemaine Murders, etc.) featuring 1920s Aussie amateur sleuth, Phryne Fisher. While the town of St. Kilda prepares for the 1928 Flower Parade, Phryne's adopted daughter, Ruth, disappears after learning her father's identity from her birthmother, Anna Ross. Phryne adds Ruth to her caseload, which coincidentally includes the search for another missing young woman, Rose Weston. As with other series entries, the solution to the mystery is secondary to the author's clever prose and gift for characterization. Phryne carries the action ably, even if her resourcefulness and unflappability sometimes border on the superhuman. The engaging cast of familiar supporting characters including Phryne's maid, Dot, and her Chinese lover, Lin Chung will delight longtime fans, but newcomers who like their crime on the lighter side can jump in without any trouble.