Summary and book reviews of Murder in Montparnasse by Kerry Greenwood

Murder in Montparnasse

A Phryne Fisher Mystery

By Kerry Greenwood

Murder in Montparnasse
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    Readers' Opinion:

  • Hardcover: Jun 2004,
    276 pages.
    Paperback: Mar 2006,
    266 pages.

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Book Summary

Always enticing in divine twenties fashion, Phryne, one of the most exciting and likeable heroines in crime writing today, leads us through a tightly plotted maze of thrilling adventure set in 1920s Australia.

Seven Australian soldiers, carousing in Paris in 1918, unknowingly witness a murder and their presence has devastating consequences. Ten years later, two are dead...under very suspicious circumstances.

Phryne's friends, Bert and Cec (sometimes cabbies and sometimes men for hire), 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. It's only as Phryne delves into the investigation that she, too, remembers being in Montparnasse on that very same day.

While Phryne is occupied with memories of Montparnasse past and the race to outpace the murderer, she finds troubles of a different kind at home. Her lover, Lin Chung, is about to be married; and the effect this is having on her own usually peaceful household is disastrous....

BookBrowse notes:

  • The setting of this opening chapter is St Kilda - a small town in Victoria, Australia, that became fashionable in the 1850s. It's about 4 miles (6 kms) from the city of Melbourne.
  • A knout (as used in the second paragraph) is a leather whip twisted with wire and hardened. It was used in Russia to flog criminals.

Chapter One

The extremely active existence we lead does not leave us leisure to devote the necessary care to the upkeep of our bodies.
- Auguste Escoffier, Ma Cuisine

The sun glared off the shop windows, the wind blew fine sand which stung the eyes. It was both chilly and sunny, a thoroughly uncomfortable combination only found in the less successful ski slopes and in Fitzroy Street, St. Kilda on this particular day in 1928.

The Hon. Phryne Fisher blinked, wiped her eyes, wished she had brought sun goggles and wrapped her sables more closely about her thin frame. With her fur coat, fur hat and Russian leather boots she looked like one of ...

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Reviews

BookBrowse

The year is 1928, the setting St Kilda - a fashionable town close to Melbourne, Australia, with many flashbacks to Paris in 1918. Phryne Fisher (pronounced Fry-knee, to rhyme with briny) is faced with two puzzles - the disappearance of a young woman about to marry a much older man and the death of two ex-soldiers that have been written off as accidental, but are anything but. When clues lead to Paris during WWI, Phyrne (who served as a volunteer ambulance driver towards the end of the war) finds memories from her past coming back to haunt her with a vengeance.

The first Phryne Fisher mystery , Cocaine Blues, was published in Australia in 1989, and there are now a total of 14 books in this popular series; but this, the 12th in the series, is the first to be available in the USA. Although this book is a complete story in its own right, I can't help feeling a little short changed coming into the series at this point because by now Phryne is surrounded by a broad compliment of dubious friends, professional acquaintances, adopted family, animals and general hangers-on; each of which, I feel sure, will have had a leading role in one or more earlier books.

Nevertheless, if you enjoy a good mystery, I recommend you browse Murder in Montparnasse. As Library Journal writes, 'a most charming, sexy, independent, and candid heroine; clever, literate dialog; and closely woven plotting will win immediate fans for this debut series.'

On a lighter note, let me leave you with a few of Phyrne Fisher's sayings, and encourage you to browse this fun book for yourself.

It is acceptable to kiss and tell, more acceptable to kiss and not tell, but entirely improper to tell and not kiss.

Smile sweetly and carry a hatpin.

A man in the kitchen is worth two in a dance-hall.
  

Media Reviews
Publishers Weekly

While the narrative's prime twist stems from an artificial device, and the main villain's identity is too obvious, the charm of the setting and the characters more than compensates.

Booklist - Jenny McLarin

Brimming with glamour, high life, and a hint of debauchery, Greenwood's series delivers a literary glass of champagne, lifting readers' spirits while tickling their fancies. 

Library Journal

A most charming, sexy, independent, and candid heroine; clever, literate dialog; and closely woven plotting will win immediate fans for this debut series. 

Reader Reviews
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 ...   Read More

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