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The Mystery of the Venus Island Fetish    by Tim Flannery order for
Mystery of the Venus Island Fetish
by Tim Flannery
Order:  USA  Can
Minotaur, 2016 (2016)

* * *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

If you enjoy tongue in cheek hilarity mixed in with your mystery, you don't want to miss Tim Flannery's The Mystery of the Venus Island Fetish, set mainly in 1932 Sydney Australia and starring young anthropologist/museum curator Archie Meek.

We first meet Archie on Venus Island where he has spent five years on a field trip, and has very much enjoyed going native - to the point where he sent home a marriage proposal to Beatrice, the rather sheltered young woman he adores, and who is employed as a registrar at the museum. Unfortunately the foreskin love token doesn't quite have the result that he had hoped for.

In addition to that disappointment, Archie is shocked on his return to discover that the Great Venus Island Fetish, a ceremonial mask surrounded by thirty-two human skulls, looks like several of the skulls have been replaced ... and a number of museum curators have gone missing!

As Archie slowly investigates - and continues to try to make progress with Beatrice - readers watch the entertaining machinations of ambitious museum director Vere Griffon, for whom the end (of securing funding) seems to justify almost any means. More skulls ensue, followed by arson. Board members investigate Griffon.

The Mystery of the Venus Island Fetish is a rare romp of a read, filled with colorful Aussie characters, and with a lead who reminded me of Voltaire's Candide, Archie being an innocent who learns valuable life lessons from the so called savages he studies. It's great fun and with an ending that sneaks up and surprises.

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