Unnatural Habits: Book summary and reviews of Unnatural Habits by Kerry Greenwood

Unnatural Habits

A Phryne Fisher Mystery (Phryne Fisher Mysteries)

by Kerry Greenwood

Unnatural Habits
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  • Published in USA  Jan 2013
    250 pages
    Genre: Mysteries

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Book Summary

1929: Girls are going missing in Melbourne. Little, pretty golden-haired girls. And not just pretty. Three of them are pregnant, poor girls from the harsh confines of the Magdalene Laundry. People are getting nervous. Polly Kettle, a pushy, self-important Girl Reporter with ambition and no sense of self preservation, decides to investigate - and promptly goes missing herself. It's time for Phryne and Dot to put a stop to this and find Polly Kettle before something quite irreparable happens to all of them. It's all piracy and dark cellars, convents and plots, murder and mystery .... and Phryne finally finds out if it's true that blondes have more fun.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"Starred Review. Among Phryne's pleasantly dashing adventures (Dead Man's Chest, 2010, etc.), this one stands out for its emphasis on sexual orientation and institutional coverups." - Kirkus

"While no one will confuse this for Dickens, Greenwood's presentation of the horrific conditions in the Magdalen Laundry, an actual place, makes this a refreshing change from the series' sometimes breezy story lines." - Publishers Weekly

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Cloggie Downunder

excellent novel
Unnatural Habits is the nineteenth book in the popular Phryne Fisher series by Australian author, Kerry Greenwood. A chance encounter with a young female reporter for The Daily Truth in a laneway leads Phryne Fisher to investigate the disappearance of three pregnant girls and said reporter. Margaret Kettle, better known as Polly, is determined to make her name as a serious journalist and steals a colleague’s story on White Slavery. But her enquiries into the fate of three very pregnant teenagers last seen at a pious widow’s nursing home mark the last sighting of the enthusiastic if somewhat careless reporter.

Her questions in a variety of places have ruffled some feathers, but whose? Someone associated with the Convent of the Good Shepherd and their workhouse-like Magdalen Laundry business? The owners of local brothels or exclusive Gentlemen’s Clubs? Or does her disgruntled colleague have a hand in her disappearance? What does the employment agency, Jobs For All, have to do with it? And just who is going around performing involuntary vasectomies on deserving males?

In this instalment, Phryne makes full use of her daughters (on vacation from school), of Dot, of her new employee, Tink and of her taxi drivers, Bert and Cec. Her minions (as she repeatedly refers to them in this instalment) are put to work on a secret code and other researches as well as taking active parts in the interrogation of witnesses. Phryne adopts an assortment of disguises: a blonde actress, a pregnant girl and a nun, as required by the different strands of the investigation. As well as white slavery, eugenics, virginity tests, kidnapping, slave labour and a female-run fruit-growing collective all feature. With this excellent novel, Greenwood once again proves herself a mistress of historical crime fiction.

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Author Information

Kerry Greenwood Author Biography

Photo: Monty Coles

Kerry Greenwood was born in the Melbourne suburb of Footscray and after wandering far and wide, she returned to live there. She has degrees in English and Law from Melbourne University and was admitted to the legal profession on the 1st April 1982, a day which she finds both soothing and significant. Kerry has written twenty novels, a number of plays (including The Troubadours with Stephen D'Arcy), is an award-winning children's writer and has edited and contributed to several anthologies. In 1996 she published a book of essays on female murderers called Things She Loves: Why Women Kill.

The Phryne Fisher series (pronounced Fry-knee, to rhyme with briny) began in 1989 with Cocaine Blues which was a great success. Kerry has written fourteen books in this series with no sign ...

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