I must say Jack, I have been in some awful company before - I have dined with torturers and Apaches and strict Plymouth Brethren and politicians - but I never met such vile company as those people. Each in his or her own way, they were frightful.'Melbourne, 1929. The year starts off for glamorous private investigator Phryne Fisher with a rather trying heat wave and more mysteries than you could prod a parasol at. Simultaneously investigating the apparent suicide death of a man on St Kilda beach and trying to find a lost, illegitimate child who could be heir to a wealthy old woman's fortune, Phryne needs all her wits about her, particularly when she has to tangle with a group of thoroughly unpleasant Bright Young Things. But Phryne Fisher is a force of nature, and takes in her elegant stride what might make others quail, including terrifying seances, ghosts, Kif smokers, the threat of human sacrifices, dubious spirit guides and maps to buried pirate treasure ...
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!