Review: Murder and Mendelssohn by Kerry Greenwood

Review: Murder and Mendelssohn by Kerry GreenwoodMurder and Mendelssohn (Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries, 20) by Kerry Greenwood
Format: ebook
Source: purchased from Amazon
Formats available: hardcover, paperback, ebook, audiobook
Genres: historical fiction, historical mystery, mystery
Series: Phryne Fisher #20
Pages: 338
Published by Poisoned Pen Press on December 4, 2018
Purchasing Info: Author's WebsitePublisher's WebsiteAmazonBarnes & NobleKoboBookshop.orgBetter World Books

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.

My Review:

Mayhem, music and murder – a combination set to intrigue both the indomitable Phryne Fisher and her legions of fans. A legion to which I am more than happy to belong – just because of delightfully complex mysteries like this one.

This entry in the series was particularly delicious because, as several of the characters remark during the course of the investigations, no one is going to mourn either of the actual murder victims. There are no grieving family members to notify in either case – in fact – no one is grieving at all.

The first thing both victims have in common is that they sowed contempt and disgust wherever they went. So it’s not a question of determining possible motives for either murder – it’s a matter of winnowing down a rather long list.

For Detective Inspector Jack Robinson, who is most definitely NOT the Jack Robinson of the TV series, it’s a case that he fully admits is not in his area of expertise – so he solicits his friend Phryne Fisher’s help.

Because everything that happens, whether in high or low places, is always in the bailiwick of Phryne and her friends. One way or another.

Very much like the case in yesterday’s book, there are so many possible motives and suspects for these murders that it’s difficult for even Phryne Fisher to narrow down just who done what to whom. Usually, when Phryne gets involved, she sees through the thicket of obfuscation and the churning sea of red herrings to determine who the guilty party might be.

With this case, it’s beginning to look like the long arm of coincidence might really have a hand in the affair, to the point where there might be more potential murderers than there are victims.

And doesn’t that make for a fine mess for Phryne to unravel – with more than a little help from her many, many friends. Especially since there’s an old and very dear one caught in the middle.

Escape Rating A: This turned out to be one of the longer and more convoluted entries in Phryne Fisher’s catalog of adventures – and I was just in the right mood for it. Phryne is always a comfort read for me, and that’s just what I was looking for, making this very much the right book at the right time.

While I came to the Phryne Fisher books from the Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries TV series, they are not the same in spite of their shared roots. Because the white-hot chemistry between Phryne and Jack in the onscreen version was never intended in the books and does not exist. Jack in the books is an older, experienced detective who is happily married and comfortable as an adjunct to Phryne’s menagerie of a household. He has come to be a friend and to accept her help willingly but that’s all there is.

Phryne in the books is intended as something a bit like a female James Bond – without the license from the Crown. She’s a complex character with a deep, rich history who has walked through a lot of dark places during her service in World War I. A darkness that she is not always able to put behind her – and does reach out for her in this entry in the series.

The mystery in Murder and Mendelssohn, while it is complex in some ways it isn’t what gives this story its depth. What gave this one both its heart and its zing was the way that it called back to Phryne’s service as an ambulance driver in World War I and her post-war stint in the intelligence service.

A dear friend from those bad old days in the trenches has arrived in Melbourne with an insufferable man who thinks he’s Sherlock Holmes. And he might be. But he’s also dismissive of everyone in the world because they aren’t as intelligent as he is. Of course he’s wrong, both in that Phryne is every bit as smart as he is, and being an arsehole to every single person you meet is no way to go through life AND you miss learning a lot of things you really need to know.

That her old friend is in love with this jackass, and that someone is out to kill one or both of them just adds to Phryne’s tasks in this mystery. She needs to solve the murders that Jack brought her, keep her old friend alive AND get the arsehole to notice that other people are human and worth just a bit of courtesy. Enough to appreciate that her dear friend John Wilson is in love with him and either love him back or let him go. If any of them survive the bit of their collective past that seems to be out to get them.

So a LOT happening, and a ton of fun in the resolution, with more than a bit of derring-do and just a soupçon of bittersweetness. A thoroughly delightful serving of Phryne Fisher’s fascinating brew. And I loved every minute of it!

Phryne is a comfort read for me, so I’ve been steadily working my way through the series whenever I need something guaranteed to let me lose myself in a good story in a fully-realized world. Next up in my journey with book-Phryne is Death in Daylesford, but I just learned that there is a new-to-me audiobook available, Tamam Shud. I’ll be diving straight into that as soon as I finish my current listen!

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