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Cocaine Blues (1989)

by Kerry Greenwood

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: Phryne Fisher Mysteries (1)

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1,4961118,410 (3.65)261
It's the end of the roaring twenties, and the exuberant and Honourable Phryne Fisher is dancing and gaming with gay abandon. But she becomes bored with London and the endless round of parties. In search of excitement, she sets her sights on a spot of detective work in Melbourne, Australia. And so mystery and the beautiful Russian dancer, Sasha de Lisse, appear in her life. From then on it's all cocaine and communism until her adventure reaches its steamy end in the Turkish baths of Little Lonsdale Street.… (more)
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    BookshelfMonstrosity: The Royal Spyness mysteries are set in England in the 1930s; the Phryne Fisher mysteries take place in Australia in the 1920s. Both cozy historical mystery series feature smart, independent, and unconventional heroines, and strong evocations of time and place.… (more)

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» See also 261 mentions

English (110)  French (1)  All languages (111)
Showing 1-5 of 110 (next | show all)
I have loved the television series based on this books for a long while, so eagerly picked this first book to read for the Twelves Tasks of the Festive Season.

The story starts off with Phryne Fisher being at her family's home in England and bored. The lights go off, and a necklace is missing, in mere seconds Phryne has figured out the culprit. After this display of her deductive reasoning, she is asked to check in on a Colonel's daughter (Lydia) that they believe is being harmed by her husband. Only catch is that the woman lives in Australia, not a place that Phryne is eager to return to. Phryne agrees to it because she has become bored and is not looking to settle down anytime soon. She only requests that the Colonel and his wife keep her coming to Australia a secret from their daughter.

The book then jumps with her aboard the ship, meeting Doctor Elizabeth MacMillan and then they both are ashore in Australia.

Phryne becomes involved with a lot of side characters very quickly while Greenwood juggles the main plot (Phryne figuring out what is going on with Lydia and her husband). We are introduced to characters we know from the tv series (Inspector Robinson, Bert, Cece, Dorothy, etc.)

I actually liked Phryne in the book but she is not the same as the Phryne (or Miss Fisher) we know from the tv show. This one was more selfish at times, but also pragmatic about things.

I also thought that she was not some super smart detective as much as she was not a stupid woman. Let me explain. One of the plots is Phryne and friends going after a man performing illegal abortions while also raping the girls/women who come to him. Well Phryne just asks for numbers to call from Dorothy and Bert I think and then she just calls with an accent and asks for the guy. You are telling me the police couldn't have figured that one out?

We also get more insight into how Phryne's family got their fortune after living in poverty in Australia. I liked how matter of fact Phryne was about things and why she seemed to be more comfortable with people like Dorothy than most other people in her class would be.

I did love the writing detailing how boring dinner parties were and what was expected of people at them. Reading about Phryne's clothes, stockings, shoes, hair, make-up got to be a bit much, but I ultimately liked it, because it showed back then that was how a woman made a statement. Also Phryne's clothes did a good job of showing that she may like pretty things, but was not a foolish woman.

The flow was off though. This was ultimately not a long story and I wish we had stayed with the one plot instead of having Phryne involved with a lot of little things here and there.

The setting of Australia fascinates me in the 1920s. I think that Greenwood did a good job of showing the different sides to Australia.

The ending though was a bit much for me. I think that was because of the way that the villain was tricked and overpowered. It was a little bit too over the top and slapstick for my tastes. ( )
  ObsidianBlue | Jul 1, 2020 |
COCAINE BLUES by Australian author, Kerry Greenwood, is the first title in her series, Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries.
I first became acquainted with the Honourable Phryne Fisher while watching the Australian television drama series, Miss Fisher’s Mysteries. (now showing on ACORN TV)
I was intrigued by her character and realized that that the television series was based on the books written by Ms. Greenwood.
There are some differences between the books and the tv productions. I love both.
The books are well-written with very interesting characters, locations and many-layered plots.
The setting is 1920s Melbourne, Australia and Miss Fisher is a fiercely independent, intelligent and interesting young woman who sets herself up as a detective.
The television series is gorgeously produced and brings Ms. Greenwood’s words to life.
In COCAINE BLUES, Phryne arrives in Melbourne and is instantly entangled in a mystery. There are steamy Turkish Baths, drug smugglers, poison, corrupt law enforcement, lavish clothes, sumptuous lodging at the Windsor Hotel, back-alley abortionists and erotic love scenes.
I am a very enthusiastic reader and an avid television fan of the Miss Fisher Murder Mysteries. ( )
  diana.hauser | May 3, 2020 |
Light, enjoyable style with an interesting heroine. Audio version is stellar - spare prose elegantly read by Stephanie Daniels. ( )
  notalice | Mar 28, 2020 |
I am rather enjoying the Phryne Fisher books. Accidentally stumbled on the second, so thought I’d better start from the beginning. This is an excellent yarn involving a drugs ring, a poisoning and a botched backstreet abortion. Slightly fantastical - Phryne is just too amazing to be considered in anyway realistic, but then so is James Bond and he’s been getting away with it for decades. Believable or not, I do rather like Phryne! ( )
  TheEllieMo | Jan 18, 2020 |
First let me say I listened to this book on audio and the reader, Stephanie Daniel, was totally annoying. Her voice was pleasant, and her accents fairly decent, but her inflections made the whole reading unbearable. Every sentence had at least one exaggerated high or low. It was like listening to a cheesy tour guide. Several times I almost stopped listening to it, but since I had actually bought the audio book I figured I had to get my money's worth.

As for the actual story it was pretty cheesy too. Phryne Fisher suffers from Mary Poppins syndrome, "Practically Perfect In Every Way." There's nothing Phryne can't do; she's a pilot, race car driver, excellent horsewoman, professionally trained street fighter, tango dancer, not to mention she's wealthy beyond measure, beautiful, and highly fashionable. She is such an unbelievably smug character I'm pretty sure I won't be able to stomache her for any more of her books in this series.

As for the plot, in fine Phryne fashion, she not only solves the case she was asked to investigate but is instrumental in catching an abortionist butcher to boot!

People and critics who have likened this series to Jeeves and Wooster must have never read any of P.G. Wodehouse's books because other than the time frame (between the World Wars) these have nothing in common. Wodehouse is witty, delightful, charming and pokes fun at the British aristocracy. Greenwood is a wanna be on all of these accounts and it’s pretty evident that she is a wanna be aristocrat.

( )
  tshrope | Jan 13, 2020 |
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» Add other authors (2 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Kerry Greenwoodprimary authorall editionscalculated
Daniel, StephanieNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Norling, BethCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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To my mother and father
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The glass in the French window shattered.
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Also titled:
Miss Phryne Fisher Investigates
Death by Misadventure
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