It's Christmas, and Phryne has an invitation to the Last Best party of 1928, a four-day extravaganza being held at Werribee Manor house and grounds by the Golden Twins, Isabella and Gerald Templar. She knew them in Paris, where they caused a sensation. Phryne is in two minds about going when she starts receiving anonymous threats warning her against attending. She promptly decides to accept the invitation - after all, no one tells Phryne what to do. At the Manor, she is accommodated in the Iris room, and at the party meets two polo-playing women, a Goat lady (and goat), a large number of glamorous young men and a very rude child called Tarquin. The acolytes of the golden twins are smoking hashish and dreaming, and Phryne finds that the jazz is as hot as the drinks are cold and indulges in flirtations, dancing, and mint juleps. Heaven.
It all seems like good clean fun until three people are kidnapped, one of them the abominable child, and Phryne must puzzle her way through the cryptic clues of the scavenger hunt to retrieve the hostages and save the party from disaster.
Australian author Greenwood's fine Phryne Fisher mystery combines suspense and humor with a taut race to unmask a master assassin before he can strike again. The irrepressible and defiantly unflappable Phryne Fisher decides to attend a lavish four-day celebration in Melbourne, "the Last Best Party of 1928," despite anonymous and deadly warnings to keep away, which include a coral snake. One of the party's hosts, Gerald Templar, becomes worried after Tarquin, the orphan boy he's adopted, disappears. The connection between Tarquin's vanishing and the escalating acts of violence from the killer who calls himself the Joker is far from obvious, and Fisher has no shortage of suspects to consider among the eccentric guests, including a man who's modeled himself on Oscar Wilde. The Joker's identity will surprise many readers, but as usual for this long-running series (Cocaine Blues, etc.), the major pleasures come from Greenwood's wry voice and the larger-than-life Fisher.