cover image Murder in the Dark: A Phryne Fisher Mystery

Murder in the Dark: A Phryne Fisher Mystery

Kerry Greenwood, . . Poisoned Pen, $24.95 (266pp) ISBN 978-1-59058-439-2

Australian author Greenwood’s fine Phryne Fisher mystery combines suspense and humor with a taut race to unmask a master assassin before he can strike again. The irrepressible and defiantly unflappable Phryne Fisher decides to attend a lavish four-day celebration in Melbourne, “the Last Best Party of 1928,” despite anonymous and deadly warnings to keep away, which include a coral snake. One of the party’s hosts, Gerald Templar, becomes worried after Tarquin, the orphan boy he’s adopted, disappears. The connection between Tarquin’s vanishing and the escalating acts of violence from the killer who calls himself the Joker is far from obvious, and Fisher has no shortage of suspects to consider among the eccentric guests, including a man who’s modeled himself on Oscar Wilde. The Joker’s identity will surprise many readers, but as usual for this long-running series (Cocaine Blues , etc.), the major pleasures come from Greenwood’s wry voice and the larger-than-life Fisher. (Mar.)