I am about to embark on reading Cocaine Blues, by Australian author Kerry Greenwood.*
Cocaine Blues is the first book in the Phryne Fisher mystery series, set in Melbourne at the end of the 1920s.
I’ve read Greenwood’s other books, her Corinna Chapman Earthly Delights series which I enjoyed for numerous reasons:
- This series is also set in Melbourne and I am unashamed to admit that I think Melbourne is the best city on the planet. Lonely Planet agrees with me.*I quite enjoyed reading about places that I’m very familiar with, it certainly makes a nice change from reading stories set in cities that I’ve never stepped foot in. I’m a very visual reader and tend to imagine what I’m reading as I’m reading it, so when I’m reading about places I’ve been it adds to the experience.
- Corinna Chapman is unashamedly fat. She’s not a size 12 who bemoans her weight and thinks she’s unworthy of male attention and starves herself and has all those issues that ‘regular’ sized story heroines seem to have. She’s a size 20, owns a bakery and likes to eat food. I would totally be her BFF just for that alone.
- Interesting characters. There’s a witch, a dominatrix, an old professor, an elderly society lady, a cranky Dutch gardener who shares my real name (spelled correctly and everything, which is highly strange to read since I never use it), an ex-heroine addicted teenager, two starving wannabe celebutantes and some nerds in a (theoretical) cave. While sometimes some of the things they say and do can come across as cliched or stereotypical (particularly the nerdy guys) it still reads well because they aren’t really the average characters you’d come across in a “reluctant-detective” story. Oh there’s also a nun that can quell nasty street scum with a disapproving look.
- It’s full of cats. Everyone has a cat. The witch, the gardener, Corinna has three, the professor.
- The recipes. While I’ve never actually tried any of them, I sure appreciate that Kerry Greenwood has gone to the effort of actually making (I’m assuming) some of the lovely sounding treats Corinna makes in her bakery and providing us plebs with a recipe at the end.
I am looking forward to reading the Phryne Fisher series for similar reasons. The blurb reads:
The London season is in full fling at the end of the 1920s, but the Honourable Phryne Fisher – she of the green-grey eyes, diamante garters and outfits that should not be sprung suddenly on those of nervous dispositions – 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.
I do quite enjoy stories where women don’t quite conform to societal standards (i.e. Althea Vestrit in Robin Hobb’s Liveship Traders Series was one of my favourites and was the catalyst for one of my earlier attempts at writing), but it has to be done well. Some female characters just come off as brattish and unlikeable when they do this, but no particular examples spring to mind currently.
And I also LOVE the description “weak-chinned men”.
A review will follow when I have finished.
*I apologise for not linking – I cannot fathom why this computer deletes my post when I attempt to add a link. I will try and add a link when I’m home tonight.