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Murder in Montparnasse: A Phryne Fisher Mystery    by Kerry Greenwood order for
Murder in Montparnasse
by Kerry Greenwood
Order:  USA  Can
Poisoned Pen, 2004 (2004)
* * *   Reviewed by Mary Ann Smyth

Though this is the twelfth book by Australian writer Kerry Greenwood, it's the first that I have read - I must correct that error. Murder in Montparnasse is a sophisticated mystery that delights in every angle and on every page. Amateur detective Phryne Fisher (don't you love the name?) spent the days of World War I in France as an ambulance driver. Then she defied her parents and wouldn't go back home to London. She stayed on in Paris, made her living as an artist's model, and became the lover of René DuBois.

Ten years later, Phryne is living in Australia, where she has befriended an unusual group of people, some who live in her home and others who pass in and out of her life on a daily basis. And what a group it is. There's a police officer and a Chinese lover, two adopted daughters and a butler with a sensitive nature, a rough-edged taxi driver, and a friend who acts as her confidante and live-in maid. Readers watch as Phryne is visited by the past, and can delight in her reminiscences of post-war Paris. Soon, ex-soldiers are being killed off and Phryne's French ex-lover resurfaces. There is a kidnapping along with the disappearance of a Bentley. So much is happening in this delightful romp through time that it is almost impossible to keep track. But Greenwood manages (with little apparent effort) to conclude every strand of this really fun book in a satisfactory manner.

Murder in Montparnasse is almost worth reading just for the descriptions of the clothing of the day – both in Paris as worn by the in art crowd, and the more conservative but no less extravagant fashions of Australia. The food served is enticing, and the Bentley and the Rolls Silver Ghost set the tone for the people riding in them. Don't miss the entertainment engendered by this wonderful cast. I hope that Phyrne Fisher will run up against more unsavory characters again – and soon.

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