The twelfth book in the historical mystery series.
Publication year: 2002
Publisher: Belinda audio
Narrator: Stephanie Daniel
Running Time: 9 hrs and 38 minutes
This time the Honorable Phryne Fisher has two unrelated mysteries to deal with. Anatole Betrand is the owner and the chef in one of the best French restaurants in Melbourne. He’s around forty years old and has found an eighteen-year-old girl, Elizabeth, for himself. Unfortunately, Elizabeth has vanished and Anatole wants Phryne to find her. Elizabeth’s father is a “well-known racing identity” who is a terror to his servants and most likely a crimina. He sent the girl to a finishing school years ago. So, he doesn’t really know his daughter.
Phryne’s friends Cec and Bert tell her that two of their friends have died. Officially, their deaths are accidents but Cec and Bert are convinced that someone has murdered their friends. Cec, Bert, and the two victims are part of a group of seven soldiers who have kept in touch over the years. Since they haven’t done anything remarkable after the war, Phryne concludes that they must have seen something during their time in Paris, when they were together celebrating the end of the war. Cec and Bert reminisce about their time in Paris and Phryne also remembers her time just after the war. She was an ambulance driver during the war and after is she met some of the famous Parisian artist and modelled for a while in order to buy rent and food. She fell in love the first time, but unfortunately for a completely wrong man.
Also, Phryne’s Chinese lover Lin Chung announces that he’s been engaged to be married. His fiancée is a lovely, seventeen-year-old virgin from mainland China and she will arrive soon. Phryne has understood that this will happen and she would like to meet the girl and put her at ease. However, Phryne’s dependable servants, Mr. and Mrs. Butler, are resigning. Mr. Butler doesn’t want to live in a household where adultery is going on. Phryne is miffed and sets out to find a new butler.
It was great to see more of Phryne’s history and to glimpse into the bohemian side of Paris right after the war. As far as I can tell, Greenwood captures it wonderfully.
Even though Greewood writes with humor, she deals (again) with serious issues such as racism and attitudes towards immigrants.
The main cast are back and even Phryne’s adoptive daughters will have a larger role in the book than usual. Since meeting Lin Chung, we been told that his family will arranged a marriage for him so it wouldn’t be possible for Lin and Phryne to get married. I’ve been wondering about this; if Greenwood would make the prospective bride a criminal or otherwise unsuitable so that Phryne could marry her Chinese lover. Thankfully, this didn’t happen. In fact, it was dealt with tastefully, if perhaps a bit too easily. I was a bit sorry for the poor girl; she would be moving to another country getting married to a man she doesn’t know and the man is already in love with someone else and continuing the relationship. Hardly fair for her.
A great continuation to the series.