Kerry Greenwood and the delicious Phryne Fisher

“Phryne was getting out of the car. Dot closed her eyes. Miss Fisher was about to happen to someone again.”
– Dead Man’s Chest

A few years ago I was on the hunt for a new crime series when I found a single copy of Cocaine Blues (the first Phryne Fisher) on the shelf at work. Despite being an avid reader of crime, I had never seen it before. I instantly fell in love with the cover, paid for it immediately and sat down for lunch and started reading. Two weeks later I had a birthday and received a very generous gift card and I went in to work and bought the rest of the books in the series. The rest they say is history!

Phryne Fisher is my favourite fictional character. She is everything I want in a character – independent, elegant, wealthy, spirited, seductive and completely outrageous!

Set in Melbourne in the 1920’s, Phryne makes a name for herself as a private detective. She fearlessly jumps into any situation and expects to land on her feet. With her trusted sidekicks, she has taken on some of the shadiest characters lurking in Melbourne’s dark alleyways and yet she always leaves them running for their lives. She is a formidable character who knows what she wants and knows exactly how to get it (and enjoy it!). Having experienced the worst that life can offer, Phryne surrounds herself with the very best of everything – this applies to all aspects of her life including good food, great cocktails, beautiful clothes and handsome men!

Whilst Phryne is not the most emotional of characters, she happily accumulates friends and family members, most of whom she has saved or stood up for, or occasionally engaged in their services to help solve a case. With their help, she takes on the most unusual cases – joining the circus, flying planes, cracking cocaine rings, working for a women’s magazine, joining a choir and attending the most extravagant parties! She certainly knows how to have a good time.

The thing I love most about these books is the way they are written. Kerry Greenwood has a wicked way with words that evokes the most wonderful images in your mind while maintaining a good dose of tongue-in-cheek humour. Each of her characters is equally rounded and yet diverse, and as wholly enjoyable as Phryne herself. Her characters are true to themselves and every new book is like catching up with my favourite friends. Greenwood’s books are definitely on the lighter end of the crime spectrum but I love them all the more for it. They are the perfect balance of great detective crime and a mix of everything else I love!

In a word, these novels are utterly delightful!

Over to you – who is your favourite fictional character and why?


9 thoughts on “Kerry Greenwood and the delicious Phryne Fisher

  1. My favourite fictional crime character is actually two. They are two characters Peter Temple created in his novels “The Broken Shore” and “Truth”. Joe Cashin and Steve Villani. These two books are simply brilliant, great character development, good plot and written in a way that your mind truly “see’s” the story.

    Also “BookKat” you must have a look at the TV adaptation of Miss Fishers Murders on the Australian ABC. Fantastic and true to the books.




    • Hi Patrick!

      I have only read a small extract of Peter Temple’s work, never a full novel although I have heard great things. I will add them to my list!

      As for the TV adaptation… I have done my best to avoid it. I love the character in my head so much that I don’t want to lose her! I was devastated when Daniel Radcliff frightened my Harry away… the one in my head has never been the same since!



      • Fair enough though I came to the books through the TV series. The same for the Andrea Camilleri series of books, Inspector Montalbano. Though in that series the cinematography and the countryside is stunning. In the 1990’s there was also a great series of French crime novels called Navarro that was turned into a TV series as well. The books were sensational they really took you in your mind to the seedy sides of Paris.


          • No I read pretty much everything, history, biographies and “whatever catches my eye” Classic literature and novels from the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s in particular. English writers from that era like Sillitoe, Monsarratt, American authors, like Hemingway, Steinbeck, Irish such as Edna O;Brien, Australian such as Neville Shute, D’arcy Niland, his wife Ruth Park, Morris West, Peter Carey, other internationsal such as Isabelle Allende. I love political thrillers from the cold war era. I really like well written cricket books, they are the only sport themed books that are written well. I will read most things. I just really love books.


            • I really love books too! There is no better thing… You have listed some great authors there. I will try anything these days.. although I haven’t read a classic in a while (unless you count the times where I stick my nose into Pride and Prejudice for a quick catch up!). I love anything based around 20th Century History!

              Did you know that Peter Carey has a new novel coming out in October? It is called Amnesia!


              • No I hadn’t heard of that, In the late 70’s early 80’s I used to work with one of his cousins. I really enjoy alternative histories. Novels were for example the Nazi’s have won the war. The best is Len Deighton’s “SS GB”, Robert Harris’s “Fatherland” is really good as well and last years “Dominion” by C.J. Sampson is really quite a fantastic portrayal of Britain as a Nazi colony. It especially helps if you know the real history and the main players and their personalities. There are also two books of short stories offering alternative histories to well known events. “What might have been”. Edited by Andrew Roberts and “What If” Volumes 1 and 2 by Robert Cowley.


                • Did they like to write too?

                  I love to read anything set during the 20th Century. It is my favourite time period and I am always looks for great reads set in that time. I saw Dominion when it came out but I clearly did not pay it enough attention as I should have. I have also seen What might have been… I will try and get my hands on both of them!


                  • No the family had a car dealership in a place in Victoria called Bacchus Marsh and Tony worked with me at what was then and is now defunct “Olympic General Products” as a sales rep.


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