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Before Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries TV Show, there were books.
What is the Miss Phryne Fisher series about?
Often called “Miss Fisher”, Phryne Fisher is the main character in Australian author Kerry Greenwood’s series, a private detective in the late 1920s.
Phryne is a wealthy British aristocrat, but not your ordinary aristocrat of course, because she’s also a private detective. Now, she lives in St Kilda, Melbourne, where, with the assistance of her maid Dot, and Bert and Cec (sometimes cabbies and sometimes men for hire), she investigates all kinds of crimes, doing so with style and class.
How to read the Phryne Fisher Books in Order?
Every book in the Phryne Fisher series works as a standalone story, but the lives of the different characters evolve from one novel to the other.
- Cocaine Blues – The London season is in full fling at the end of the 1920s, but the Honourable Phryne Fisher is rapidly tiring of the tedium of arranging flowers, making polite conversations with retired colonels, and dancing with weak-chinned men. Instead, Phryne decides it might be rather amusing to try her hand at being a lady detective in Melbourne, Australia. Almost immediately from the time she books into the Windsor Hotel, Phryne is embroiled in mystery: poisoned wives, cocaine smuggling rings, corrupt cops, and communism.
- Flying Too High – Walking the wings of a Tiger Moth plane in full flight ought to be enough excitement for most people, but not Phryne Fisher. The 1920s’ most talented and glamorous detective flies even higher, handling a murder, a kidnapping and the usual array of beautiful young men with style and consummate ease–and all before it’s time to adjourn to the Queenscliff Hotel for breakfast.
- Murder on the Ballarat Train – When Miss Phryne Fisher arranges to go to Ballarat for the week, she eschews the excitement of her red Hispano-Suiza racing car for the sedate safety of the train. The last thing she expects is to have to use her trusty Beretta .32 to save the passengers’ lives. As they sleep, they are poisoned with chloroform. Phryne is left to piece together the clues after this restful country sojourn turns into the stuff of nightmares with a young girl who can’t remember anything…
- Death at Victoria Dock – Driving home late one night, Phryne Fisher is surprised when someone shoots out her windscreen. When she alights she finds a pretty young man with an anarchist tattoo dying on the tarmac just outside the dock gates. He bleeds to death in her arms, and all over her silk shirt. Enraged by the loss of the clothing, the damage to her car, and this senseless waste of human life, Phryne promises to find out who is responsible.
- The Green Mill Murder – Phryne Fisher is doing one of her favorite things―dancing to the music of Tintagel Stone’s Jazzmakers at the Green Mill, Melbourne’s premier dance hall. And she’s wearing a sparkling lobelia-colored georgette dress. Nothing can flap the unflappable Phryne. Nothing but death, that is. The dance competition is trailing into its last hours when suddenly a figure slumps to the ground.
- Blood and Circuses – Phryne Fisher is bored. Life appears to be too easy, too perfect. Her household is ordered, her love life is pleasant, the weather is fine. And then a man from her past arrives at the door. It is Alan Lee from the carnival. Alan and his friends want her to investigate strange happenings at Farrells Circus, where animals have been poisoned and ropes sabotaged.
- Ruddy Gore – Running late to the Hinkler gala performance of Gilbert and Sullivan’s Ruddigore, Phryne Fisher meets some thugs in a dark alley and handles them convincingly before they can ruin her silver dress. Phryne then finds that she has rescued the handsome Lin Chung and his grandmother, and is briefly mistaken for a deity. Denying divinity but accepting cognac, she later continues safely to the theatre. But the unexpected continues as the performance is interrupted by a most bizarre death onstage.
- Urn Burial – The redoubtable Phryne Fisher is holidaying at Cave House, a Gothic mansion in the heart of Australia’s Victorian mountain country. But the peaceful surroundings mask danger. Her host is receiving death threats, lethal traps are set without explanation, and the parlour maid is found strangled to death. What with the reappearance of mysterious funerary urns, a pair of young lovers, an extremely eccentric swagman, an angry outcast heir, and the luscious Lin Chung, Phryne’s attention has definitely been caught.
- Raisins and Almonds – Phryne Fisher loves dancing, especially with gorgeous young Simon Abrahams. But Phryne’s contentment at the Jewish Young People’s Society Dance is cut short when Simon’s father asks her to investigate the strange death of a devout young student in Miss Sylvia Lee’s East Market bookshop. Miss Lee has been arrested for the murder, and Phryne believes that she is a very unlikely killer.
- Death Before Wicket – Phryne Fisher is on holiday. She means to take the train to Sydney (where the harbour bridge is being built), go to a few cricket matches, dine with the Chancellor of the university, and perhaps go to the Arts Ball with that young modernist, Chas Nutall. She has the costume of a lifetime, and she’s not afraid to use it. When she arrives there, however, her maid Dot finds that her respectable married sister Joan has vanished, leaving her small children to the neglectful care of a resentful husband. What has become of Joan, who would never leave her babies?
- Away with the Fairies – It’s 1928 in Melbourne and Phryne is asked to investigate the puzzling death of a famous author and illustrator of fairy stories. To do so, Phryne takes a job within the women’s magazine that employed the victim and finds herself enmeshed in her colleagues’ deceptions. But while Phryne is learning the ins and outs of magazine publishing first hand, her personal life is thrown into chaos.
- Murder in Montparnasse – Seven Australian soldiers, carousing in Paris in 1918, unknowingly witness a murder, with devastating consequences. Ten years later, two are dead…under very suspicious circumstances. Phryne Fisher’s friends, Bert and Cec, appeal to her for help. They were part of this group of soldiers in 1918 and they fear for their lives and for those of the other three men.
- The Castlemaine Murders – The fabulous Phryne Fisher, her sister Beth and her faithful maid, Dot, decide that Luna Park is the perfect place for an afternoon of fun and excitement with Phryne’s two daughters, Ruth and Jane. But in the dusty dark Ghost Train, amidst the squeals of horror and delight, a mummified bullet-studded corpse falls to the ground in front of them. Phryne Fisher’s pleasure trip has definitely become business.
- Queen of the Flowers – St. Kildas streets hang with fairy lights. Tea dances, tango competitions, lifesaving demonstrations, lantern shows, and picnics on the beach are all part of the towns first Flower Parade. And who should be Queen of the Flowers but the Honourable Phryne Fisher? It seems that the lovely Phryne has nothing to do but buy dresses, drink cocktails, and dine in lavish restaurants. Unfortunately, disappearances during this joyous festival arent limited to the magic shows.
- Death by Water – The nice men at P&O are worried. A succession of jewelry thefts from the first-class passengers is hardly the best advertisement for their cruises. Especially when it is likely that a passenger is the thief. Phryne Fisher is just the person to mingle seamlessly with the upper classes and take on a case of theft on the high seas.
- Murder in the Dark – Its Christmas, and Phryne has an invitation to the Last Best party of 1928, a four-day extravaganza being held at Werribee Manor house and grounds by the Golden Twins, Isabella and Gerald Templar. She knew them in Paris, where they caused a sensation. Phryne is in two minds about going. But when threats begin arriving in the mail, she promptly decides to accept the invitation. No one tells Phryne Fisher what to do.
- Murder on a Midsummer Night – The Hon. Phryne Fisher, languid and slightly bored at the start of 1929, has been engaged to find out if the antique-shop-owning son of a Pre-Raphaelite model has died by homicide or suicide. Simultaneously, she is asked to discover the fate of the lost illegitimate child of a rich old lady, to the evident dislike of the remaining relatives.
- Dead Man’s Chest – Traveling at high speed in her beloved Hispano-Suiza with her maid and trusted companion Dot, her two adoptive daughters Jane and Ruth, and their dog Molly, Phryne Fisher is off to Queenscliff. She’d promised everyone a nice holiday by the sea with absolutely no murders, but when they arrive at their rented accommodation that doesn’t seem likely at all.
- Unnatural Habits – Miss Phryne Fisher returns to delve deep into the dark side of Melbourne, Australia. It’s 1929, and girls are going missing. Little, pretty golden-haired girls. And they’re not just pretty. Three of them are pregnant, poor girls from the harsh confines of the Magdalene Laundry. People are getting nervous. It’s time for Phryne and Dot to put a stop to this.
- Murder and Mendelssohn – An orchestral conductor has been found dead and Detective Inspector Jack Robinson needs Miss Fisher’s assistance to enter a world in which he is truly lost. Hugh Tregennis, not much liked by anyone, has been murdered in a most flamboyant mode by a killer with a point to prove. But how many killers is Phryne really stalking?
- Death in Daylesford – When a mysterious invitation for a spa holiday arrives for Miss Phryne Fisher from an unknown retired Captain Herbert Spencer, Phryne’s curiosity is piqued. Spencer runs a retreat in Victoria’s rural spa country for shell-shocked veterans of World War I. It’s a cause after Phryne’s own heart, but what can Spencer want from her?
- Murder in Williamstown – Awakening unusually early one morning, Phryne Fisher finds herself with a rare stretch of free time to fill. After dropping her daughters off for their school-sponsored charity work at the Blind Institute, she visits a university professor whose acquaintance she’d made–and admired–on a prior case. At lunch, the smitten professor invites Phryne to dine at his home in Williamstown later that week. Bookending her pleasant dinner with her new friend Jeoffrey, Phryne makes two disturbing discoveries: first, a discarded opium pipe in the park, and later the body of a Chinese man on the beach–cause of death not apparent, yet ultimately ruled a homicide. Shortly thereafter, the teenaged sister-in-law of Phryne’s longtime lover Lin Chung disappears from her home.