Cocaine Blues: Meat Phyrne Fischer
This is a light, airy mystery with an original concept and an interesting storyline. Phryne Fisher is an independently-wealthy Englishwoman living in the 1920's; despite her wealth, and her love of spending it, she moonlights as a private investigator. She is sent to Australia to check up on and protect Lydia Matthews, a delicate young woman in a seemingly unstable marriage.
The characters are quite interesting, and Greenwood clearly has complex backstories set up for each of them following this first novel. Some of them are a bit oversimplified--Bert and Cec could have used more time on the page--but they are welcome additions to the story.
Despite how much I liked this book, it wasn't great. The pacing was jerky: sometimes it flowed beautifully, the dialogue and scenic description spilling out over the page. But there were also these short, static chapters with minor characters, none of which added to the plot.
And a small thing: one of my little pet peeves is clothing description. In this book, I wasn't sure how I felt about it. I know that for historical novels, particularly ones with lavish embellishment, describing one's clothes is as natural as describing the setting. So, yes, it's an unreasonable irritation, but it's there nonetheless; Greenwood vividly depicts the flapper dresses, Sasha's costume, and the doctor's trouser-included ensemble. While it is sensory, I was a little overwhelmed by the opulence of the dress; it distracted from the actual story. In the end I thought that, while it paints a strong image, some of it wasn't necessary.