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Cloggie Downunder

Phryne fans will love it!

Murder in Montparnasse is the twelfth book in the popular Phryne Fisher series by Australian author, Kerry Greenwood. A request from the French chef/owner of Café Anatole to locate a missing prospective young bride has Phryne thinking back to her time in Paris in 1918. Shortly after, Bert and Cec ask for Phryne’s help with the suspicious death of two of their mates from the war: they believe others in their group of seven diggers are in danger. Discussion leads Phryne to conclude that they witnessed the murder under a Metro train at Montparnasse of a Parisian artist, Pierre Sarcelle. Coincidentally, Phryne was also in Paris at the time, and had posed for Sarcelle. Memories both good and bad flood in. On top of this, Phryne’s plan to continue seeing the soon-to-be-married Lin Chung has Mr Butler threatening the unthinkable. This instalment has an arsonist, standover merchants, a cranky father, a ransom note, a car theft gang, lots of French food, some cross-dressing, spiked drinks and a tin of Best Seville Orange Marmalade. Phryne enlists the help of Ruth and Jane in some undercover pursuit, meets Jack Robinson’s wife Rosie and Lin Chung’s prospective wife Camillia and foils an eviction. Hugh Collins accidentally solves a crime in Mildura and Jack Robinson makes a daring food choice. Greenwood gives the reader a bit more of Phryne’s backstory with her activities in Paris amongst the famous and infamous, as well as a cracking good mystery with plenty of intrigue, some excellent twists and a bit of irony. Phryne fans will love it!


nice as always but…

Let me first say that I do not read Phryne Fisher mysteries as crime novels but as entertaining stories that make me smile (and admire Phryne of course). Here the different mysteries are rather thin but most characters are – as always – interesting and well constructed, although some are schematic. The entourage and household turns and twists (Mr Butler, Lin, Jack, Hugh etc.) are rather fun. I enjoyed very much discovering Phryne in Montparnasse just after the war and learning on her upbringing there. But as I am French, there is the snag ! A lot of small details are absolutely wrong… Just three examples, but there is more of course : one does not say “vin DU table” but “vin DE table” (n.f.) and yes it’s a current joke to say it is made of a real wooden table; the “chien qui fume” in Montparnasse did not exist before 1930 (but the “chien qui fume” in old Paris center, near Les Halles, did exist since 19th or even 18th century) ; it is impossible that Phryne coud see laundry drying on a line from window to window in rue Saint Honoré (where is supposed to be Hotel Magnifique): this street is elegant and rather posh… and only low classes did such etc. That makes reading sometimes irritating, winch is too bad. On the other hand, the novel is really pleasant.

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