18th book in the series

Publication year: 2010
Format: Audio
Narrator: Stephanie Daniel
Running Time: 9 hrs and 25 minutes

Phryne, her maid Dot, her adoptive daughters Jane and Ruth, and their dog Molly are on vacation on Queenscliff where Phryne has rented a house. The house’s owner says that Mr. and Mrs. Johnson are supposed to greet Phryne’s group and serve them during their stay. However, when they arrive, the Johnsons aren’t there and also all the food and even furniture are gone. However, there’s no sign of struggle or burglary. Phryne asks the neighbors but they don’t know anything, either. The Johnson’s seem to be decent folk and they have had a week’s holiday but they are supposed to be back already. The mystery deepens when Phryne finds the Johnson’s beloved dog Gaston starving and filthy. Also, a Phantom Snipper is haunting the village. He cuts off girl’s hair suddenly and nobody has been able to even identify him.

Fortunately for Phryne, Ruth wants to be a cook and she’s happy to try her hand in the kitchen, first stoking it from the start and then cooking for the whole party.

The characters are again delightful. In addition to the familiar cast, there’s Eddie, also called Tinker, a young boy who is considered lazy but whom Phryne quickly deduces only needs someone to trust him and treat him right, and he quickly becomes devoted to Phryne. One of the neighbors is a very disagreeable old woman but she might know something.

The mystery is pretty light this time, however.