The sixteenth book in the series.
Publication year: 2005
Narrator: Stephanie Daniel
Running Time: 8 hrs and 20 minutes
Christmas has come to Melbourne and the Fisher household is spending it in relative quiet. However, Phryne is thinking of attending the Last Good Party of 1928 which is going to be organized by two of Phryne’s old friends, Isabella and Gerard Templar who are called the Golden Twins because they look perfect and are rich. They’ve come to Australia and Phryne suspects that they might be running away from something. However, when Phryne received threatening letters which warn her not to attend the party, she of course decides to go. Then a mysterious Christmas present is left on her doorstep and it turns out to have a deadly snake it. Fortunately, Phryne’s cat Ember is nearby and kills it efficiently. Now, Phryne is determined to find out who is behind it all.
Unfortunately, her Chinese lover Lin Chung can’t join her because he’s going to a funeral so she’s going alone and meeting interesting new people. Dot and Mr. Butler visit her every day but Phryne stays alone in the Warribee Manor house in the luxurious Iris room. The house is old but has been renovated in a way that horrifies Dot and Phryne. Phryne gets to meet a lot of new people, including female polo players who are at first ridiculed for wanting to play in such a manly sport, a Goat lady and her goat, and several handsome young men. But then youngsters are kidnapped.
I enjoyed the domestic Christmas scenes at the start of the book but for a new reader they could be really slow. Mrs Butler allowed Phryne’s adoptive daughter Ruth to prepare the Christmas dinner and Ruth is charmingly worried about it.
I was a bit surprised that Phryne’s household would just add the mysterious present under the tree. Surely by now she has so many enemies that they should have known better. Dot is very concerned about the party and thinks that Phryne will be seduced into all kinds of wickedness.
The book has a lot of riddles and I really enjoyed those, although I couldn’t figure them out before Phryne. The cast of characters is quite large and most of them are new but I wouldn’t mind seeing them again, especially the polo playing women.
The ending was a bit too convenient but I guess that goes with a Christmas tale.