To the accompaniment of heavenly choirs singing, the fearless Miss Phryne Fisher returns in her 20th adventure with musical score in hand.
An orchestral conductor has been found dead and Detective Inspector Jack Robinson needs the delightfully incisive and sophisticated Miss Fisher's assistance to enter a world in which he is truly lost. Hugh Tregennis, not much liked by anyone, has been murdered in a most flamboyant mode by a killer with a point to prove. But how many killers is Phryne really stalking?
At the same time, the dark curls, disdainful air and the lavender eyes of mathematician and code-breaker Rupert Sheffield are taking Melbourne by storm. They've certainly taken the heart of Phryne's old friend from the trenches of WWI, John Wilson. Phryne recognizes Sheffield as a man who attracts danger and is determined to protect John from harm.
Even with the faithful Dot, Mr. and Mrs. Butler, and all in her household ready to pull their weight, Phryne's task is complex. While Mendelssohn's Elijah, memories of the Great War, and the science of deduction ring in her head, Phryne's past must also play its part as MI6 become involved in the tangled web of murders.
Set in 1929, Greenwood's lighthearted 20th Phryne Fisher mystery (after 2013's Unnatural Habits) opens with news of a highly unusual murder. Hedley Tregennis, the conductor of the Melbourne (Australia) Harmony Choir, with the Occasional Orchestra, received a fatal dose of morphine before someone stuffed sheet music from Mendelssohn's oratorio Elijah down his throat. Insp. Jack Robinson, on the pretext that he doesn't know anything about music or "these sort of people," easily persuades PI Phryne to investigate. The unflappable flapper soon ascertains that not everyone is saddened by the demise of the lecherous Tregennis. At the same time, Phryne, who spied for the British during WWI, attempts to thwart an attempt on the life of former code breaker Rupert Sheffield, who's also an expert mathematician. The usual mix of fair-play clues and romantic escapades for Phryne helps keep this 25-year-old series fresh.