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Delightful mystery, as always.
Murder in the Dark is the sixteenth book in the popular Phryne Fisher series by Australian author Kerry Greenwood. It is the end of the year, and Phryne, somewhat reluctantly, accepts an invitation to attend the Last Best Party of 1928, spurred on to do so when several anonymous communications warn her against it. Held at Werribee in the Chirnside Manor, this six-day party is being thrown by the beautiful and charismatic Gerald Templar and his equally beautiful twin sister, Isabella, lately arrived from London via Paris. The Templars have brought with them their acolytes, including, among others, the Wildean Sylvanus Leigh and the Sapphic girls from Montparnasse. Amid the two hundred guests are the polo-playing Grammar Boys and Wonnangatta Tigers, a jazz trio, Arabian, Japanese and medieval musicians, the delectable Nicholas Booth (whom Phryne deems fit to dally with in Lin Chung’s absence), Madge, the Goat lady and her mint-addicted goat, a scowling orphan named Tarquin and Blues singer Nerine. The Last Best Party includes themed dinners, hamper lunches, a polo match, a deer hunt, trap shooting, poetry recitals, parlour games, a Bal Masqué, a jazz concert, plenty of drinking, eating and hashish, and certain other decadent activities. Upon arrival, Phryne finds her invitation has more than just a social aspect, as Gerald Templar has been receiving death threats and pleads for her assistance. Soon enough, young Tarquin goes missing, riddles begin appearing and Phryne finds she is trying to trap a contract killer. Stabbing, mass poisoning, kidnapping, ground glass in cold cream, a ransom note, and a coral snake in a gift box all feature. Motives of revenge, jealousy, hatred and greed propel several different offenders. As well as quotes from classic poems and plays, and recipes for delicious cocktails, the reader tastes Christmas in the Fisher household and chez Williams, Butler, Yates and Johnson. Phryne goes undercover as a housemaid, wins a bet using a bunch of mint, remembers a few things her detested father was right about, attempts some rhyme and asks the all-important question: just how much cream can one cat hold? Delightful mystery, as always.