Written by Australian author Kerry Greenwood, this popular series of mystery novels has been running for some time now as they’ve garnered both critical and commercial attention worldwide. With over twenty novels to date and plenty more to come, this franchise features the ongoing exploits of its eponymous heroine who leads the way in solving a variety of cases. Set in the 1920s, it portrays the detective of wealthy aristocratic origin solving crimes and using her wits to uncover the truth, whatever that may be. Talented as she is smart, she is able to fly planes and drive cars, her being somewhat of a free-spirited bohemian of the time, as she dazzles those around her. Born at the turn of the century, she is very much a product of her time, being only 28 at the beginning of the series, she immerses herself within the period. Set in St. Kilda, Melbourne, it also has a very attentive focus on the location as well, with its well researched and fully realized environment.
Kerry Greenwood sets her up as a strong female who is independently minded as she flouts the various conventions of the period that were imposed upon women then. This has led to her becoming popular with readers worldwide as she brings in a global audience that are increasing day-by-day and will continue to do so. Gaining awards and various other critical acknowledgements for her work, she shows no signs of stopping anytime soon as her franchise will continue to expand into the foreseeable future.
First written and published in 1989, this is the crime novel that originally introduced the character of Phyrne Fisher to world as it set-up the franchise as a whole. Also known as ‘Death By Misadventure’ in the United States when it was released there in 1991, it begun to gain traction and the rest of the story is history. Establishing the character, it works to set her up with her first mystery as it manages to establish both the tone and the setting, as well as the style of her character and personality.
Phyrne Fisher is an honorable young woman of leisure who devotes her time to solving crimes and providing justice for those who may need it. Starting with her solving a jewel theft from a country house in no time at all, she is then asked to work for the Colonel along with his wife Mrs Andrews as they seek to find their missing daughter. Taking up the search, Phyrne then dedicates herself to finding the missing girl, as she relocates to Melbourne in order to finish the job whilst spending some time away. Will she be able to find the girl and does she want to be found? Can she uncover the truth behind it all and find out what’s really going on? What will become of Phyrne Fisher as she delves into the world of cocaine blues?
Flying Too High
Following on from the first book in 1990 on the 1st of January, this carried on from where the previous novel left off, working as a direct sequel and new mystery for the eponymous heroine. Further establishing her character as well, it builds well upon the overall premise of the book, creating a well rounded template for much of what was to come. The times have also progressed as it charts some of what was known as the ‘roaring twenties’ creating a vibrant and lively atmosphere to act as the backdrop to these stories, which is then juxtaposed with the crimes themselves.
Enlisting the help of her maid Dot, a recurring character that was to return many times yet, the ever lively flapper Phyrne Fisher brings a whole cast of colorful characters along to help her in her next mystery. Bill McNaughton, a big bounding blustering type of gentleman, wants to prove that it wasn’t him who killed his father, whilst young six year old Candida needs to escape the clutches of Sid, an evil molester. Phyrne must do her best to put everything right and solve the problems placed before her, as she uses her wits and her charms to get the job done. Will she be able to get the job done in time and what will it take to manage it? Who killed the father and how will she bring back Candida unharmed? How shall Phyrne Fisher deal with it all as she aims to make sure that she’s not flying too high?
The Phryne Fisher Series
Now a star of her very own television show, Phyrne Fisher has gone onto inspire the ABC1 series ‘Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries’ which begun in 2012 on the 24th of February. Starring Essie Davis as the detective herself, it has also gone onto achieve its own success as it portrays the stories from the popular line of novels. Produced in Australia there are now over thirteen one-hour shows created for the channel with more expected soon, as it has been exported to over 120 countries worldwide, furthering the franchise’s international appeal. This comprises over two series so far, along with a Christmas special, and a third one announced in June 2014 following the success of its initial run.
Both stylish and classy, Phyrne Fisher is iconic in her manner and they way she’s put forwards in her novels as she appeals to a highly distinctive moment in time. Capturing the essence of the period she appeals across the generation gap as she manages to convey a universal theme of independence and resourcefulness. Taking her cue from the legendary Phyrne of ancient Greece, she has a lot to live up to as she aims to be true to her namesake, which was also one of free-spirited beauty during her time of 4th century BC. Whilst not always an aristocrat as she was born into a poor family, she retains a sense of modesty that’s relatable to the reader and has worked to build upon her appeal and charm. As more books are set to come out in the series, it appears that there’s plenty of life left yet in the franchise as Kerry Greenwood shows no signs of stopping anytime soon with the character growing from strength-to-strength.
Books in order of publication by series:
Phryne Fisher Books
|Flying too High||(1990)|
|Murder on the Ballarat Train||(1991)|
|Death at Victoria Dock||(1992)|
|The Green Mill Murder||(1993)|
|Blood and Circuses||(1994)|
|Raisins and Almonds||(1997)|
|Death Before Wicket||(1999)|
|Away with the Fairies||(2001)|
|Murder in Montparnasse||(2002)|
|The Castlemaine Murders||(2003)|
|Queen of the Flowers||(2004)|
|Death by Water||(2005)|
|Murder in the Dark||(2006)|
|Murder on a Midsummer Night||(2008)|
|Dead Man’s Chest||(2010)|
|Murder and Mendelssohn||(2014)|
Phryne Fisher Collection
|A Question of Death: An Illustrated Phryne Fisher Treasury||(2008)|