review of The Lady with the Gun Asks the Questions by Kerry Greenwood – coming soon

Simply fun…

It’s hard to say which is more enjoyable – Kerry Greenwood’s note at the beginning of this collection of short stories, letting readers in on how she “discovered” The Honourable Phryne Fisher, or the short stories themselves.   Both are delightful.    And I was amused to find that the author thinks of Phryne as a female James Bond or Simon Templar – I myself have thought of her as a James Bond type, albeit with more smarts.  But of course, I could never have written the series…

The seventeen stories in The Lady with the Gun Asks the Questions are all quite short, and short stories are usually not my favorite way to read mysteries, because I often feel that there just isn’t time to develop much of an investigation.   And that is true of a few of these stories, where I’m not totally sure that the clues available to Phryne are actually adequate for the solution.   But that doesn’t matter much, because Phyrne herself is really the star, with Melbourne as her co-star.  Whether she’s telling Lindsay Herbert she won’t marry him in Marrying the Bookie’s Daughter, or being intrigued both by the professor (!!!) and the medieval book (“monkeys and cats danced down the side of black-lettered pages; bright birds which had been dust for centuries sang loud and shrill from branches of thorns…”) in The Hours of Juana the Mad, or figuring out the code played by the bellringers in The Bells of St Paul’s  – in the end I found myself reading “just one more”, and then “just one more again”, simply for a chance to see more of Phryne.   Until I ran out of “one mores” – sigh!     

All-in-all The Lady with the Gun Asks the Questions is simply fun reading, and FWIW, the title has gone on my list of favorite mystery titles as well.  I’m happy to give it five stars. One additional small note is that there is a Glossary at the end.  If I had known this when I started reading, it would have saved me a few Google searches – although I already knew what a “flapper” was and what a “cloche” looked like, I never would have guessed that “American cloth” was linoleum or that “Californian Poppy” was a kind of hair oil!   (Those who don’t like to skip ahead can rest assured that there are no spoilers in the Glossary.)    And finally, my thanks to Poisoned Pen Press and NetGalley for the advance review copy.

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