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Murder and Mendelssohn (Phryne Fisher Series #20)

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Overview


To the accompaniment of heavenly choirs singing, the fearless Miss Phryne Fisher returns in her 20th adventure with musical score in hand.

An orchestral conductor has been found dead and Detective Inspector Jack Robinson needs the delightfully incisive and sophisticated Miss Fisher's assistance to enter a world in which he is at sea. Hugh Tregennis, not much liked by anyone, has been murdered in a most flamboyant mode by a killer with a point ...

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Murder and Mendelssohn

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Overview


To the accompaniment of heavenly choirs singing, the fearless Miss Phryne Fisher returns in her 20th adventure with musical score in hand.

An orchestral conductor has been found dead and Detective Inspector Jack Robinson needs the delightfully incisive and sophisticated Miss Fisher's assistance to enter a world in which he is at sea. Hugh Tregennis, not much liked by anyone, has been murdered in a most flamboyant mode by a killer with a point to prove. But how many killers is Phryne really stalking?

At the same time, the dark curls, disdainful air and the lavender eyes of mathematician and code-breaker Rupert Sheffield are taking Melbourne by storm. They've certainly taken the heart of Phryne's old friend from the trenches of WW1, John Wilson. Phryne recognises Sheffield as a man who attracts danger and is determined to protect John from harm.

Even with the faithful Dot, Mr and Mrs Butler, and all in her household ready to pull their weight, Phryne's task is complex. While Mendelssohn's Elijah, memories of the Great War, and the science of deduction ring in her head, Phryne's past must also play its part as MI6 become involved in the tangled web of murders.

A vastly entertaining tale of murder, spies, mathematics and music.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
03/17/2014
Set in 1929, Greenwood’s lighthearted 20th Phryne Fisher mystery (after 2013’s Unnatural Habits) opens with news of a highly unusual murder. Hedley Tregennis, the conductor of the Melbourne (Australia) Harmony Choir, with the Occasional Orchestra, received a fatal dose of morphine before someone stuffed sheet music from Mendelssohn’s oratorio Elijah down his throat. Insp. Jack Robinson, on the pretext that he doesn’t know anything about music or “these sort of people,” easily persuades PI Phryne to investigate. The unflappable flapper soon ascertains that not everyone is saddened by the demise of the lecherous Tregennis. At the same time, Phryne, who spied for the British during WWI, attempts to thwart an attempt on the life of former code breaker Rupert Sheffield, who’s also an expert mathematician. The usual mix of fair-play clues and romantic escapades for Phryne helps keep this 25-year-old series fresh. (May)
From the Publisher

""Like her heroine, Greenwood has never been more confident and confronting, which leads to the cheering conclusion that while we might applaud TV Phryne's onscreen triumphs, the Phryne of the fiction is dancing to her own inimitable tune.""--Sydney Morning Herald

""Among Phryne's pleasantly dashing adventures (Dead Man's Chest, 2010, etc.), this one stands out for its emphasis on sexual orientation and institutional coverups.""--Kirkus Starred Review of Unnatural Habits

""While no one will confuse this for Dickens, Greenwood’s presentation of the horrific conditions in the Magdalen Laundry, an actual place, makes this a refreshing change from the series’ sometimes breezy story lines.""--Publishers Weekly of Unnatural Habits

""Phryne is a highly engaging series protagonist: an aristocrat who came from humble origins, a decorated veteran of the Great War, a pilot, and a sort of proto-feminist who says what’s on her mind and absolutely will not tolerate stupidity or arrogance. She feels in many ways like she’s been transplanted from a modern-day crime novel: a character created by, say, Janet Evanovich or Lisa Gardner and then transported 90-odd years back in time. And, yet, the period setting works splendidly, making the most of the flapper ahead of her time. Series fans will be delighted, as always, but promotion to newbies could garner Greenwood some new readers, too.""—Booklist of Unnatural Habits

From the Publisher

"Like her heroine, Greenwood has never been more confident and confronting, which leads to the cheering conclusion that while we might applaud TV Phryne's onscreen triumphs, the Phryne of the fiction is dancing to her own inimitable tune."--Sydney Morning Herald

"Among Phryne's pleasantly dashing adventures (Dead Man's Chest, 2010, etc.), this one stands out for its emphasis on sexual orientation and institutional coverups."--Kirkus Starred Review of Unnatural Habits

"While no one will confuse this for Dickens, Greenwood’s presentation of the horrific conditions in the Magdalen Laundry, an actual place, makes this a refreshing change from the series’ sometimes breezy story lines."--Publishers Weekly of Unnatural Habits

"Phryne is a highly engaging series protagonist: an aristocrat who came from humble origins, a decorated veteran of the Great War, a pilot, and a sort of proto-feminist who says what’s on her mind and absolutely will not tolerate stupidity or arrogance. She feels in many ways like she’s been transplanted from a modern-day crime novel: a character created by, say, Janet Evanovich or Lisa Gardner and then transported 90-odd years back in time. And, yet, the period setting works splendidly, making the most of the flapper ahead of her time. Series fans will be delighted, as always, but promotion to newbies could garner Greenwood some new readers, too."—Booklist of Unnatural Habits

Bookloons
I have always liked – no, loved - Kerry Greenwood's series, the Phryne Fisher mysteries. Each one explored Phryne's character a little bit more so that she was always a welcome visitor in my home.

I am not so sure about her latest, Murder and Mendelssohn. To my way of thinking, Phryne has revealed a bit of her character that goes a little too far for me. Understand, this is the opinion of an 81 year-old woman. I have enjoyed her sexual expressions in previous books and have at times wished I had lived with more aplomb, as did Phryne. I'm not sure if Phryne was a woman of her time or ahead of her time.

The mystery which she once again investigates on her own, leaving the police in her dust, is a very intriguing one. And Phryne reveals another talent – that of singing. An amateur choir is rehearsing Mendelssohn's Elijah for a performance. Their conductor is a grave disappointment to the choir members who all breathe a sigh of relief when he is found murdered. But his replacement is no better at conducting and is soon also found dead.

Not that the choir would deliberately wish anyone dead – but they are putting their hearts and souls into this performance. Phryne puts her investigative skills to work to help her dear police friend, Jack Robinson, solve the murders. She reunites with John Wilson, a man she met in the trenches in the Great War. Great sex, but he is really pining for affection from his mentor Rupert Sheffield, who proves to be a boor of the highest level.

The question is whether Phryne can solve the murders as well as turn Sheffield's head in Wilson's direction. Her method of helping Wilson win Sheffield's heart is extremely unusual. While helping her friend, she realizes she will lose his expertise in the bedroom. But she feels so strongly about Wilson, she is willing to help him win his heart's desire. This aspect was definitely not what I expected when I opened Murder and Mendelsson.

Sydney Morning Herald
Now that flapper - sleuth Miss Fisher is well advanced in her second series on ABC television, it's salutary to ponder how her parallel career in crime fiction is travelling. This is not the first time an established crime writer has had to negotiate the gap between the needs of an episodic television series and what the readers like best. P.D. James once happily observed that Inspector Dalgliesh inevitably resembled Roy Marsden after the actor first embodied her poet - philosopher hero. Ian Rankin, on the other hand, recalled getting rather drunk on a transnational trip to Australia after watching actor John Hannah, who had just optioned Rebus, in The Mummy during the in -flight entertainment. Hannah was simply not the type of Rebus that Rankin had in mind when he created his dour detective. Fortunately, Kerry Greenwood had some say in the choice of Essie Davis to portray Phryne Fisher and the actress certainly looks the part, from her "neat bob" as "shiny as patent leather" to her well- turned ankles. However, there are some significant differences between what we will see on the screen and read in the pages of Murder with Mendelssohn, Greenwood's 20th crime novel to feature Phryne. For example, there is a sex scene in the book that is highly unlikely to make it onto TV, except perhaps in an R -rated cable version. It involves one hitherto "frigid" gay man, one (arguably) bisexual male, and the mischievous Phryne. While Phryne's libido has always been voracious, on television she is routinely accompanied by the buttoned- down Detective Jack Robinson in a flirtatious relationship that can only work as long as it is unconsummated. On TV, Unresolved Sexual Tension rules; in fiction consummation is, in Phryne's case, both necessary and frequent. This is where the screen Phryne and the book Phryne part company. The TV Phryne is a flirt; the literary Phryne follows through and has her man, whoever that might be, exactly as she chooses. As a consequence, Phryne's erotic adventures are as much a part of her literary career as the cases she solves. There are, of course, many other pleasures to be had. Like Dorothy L. Sayers, who famously regaled her readers with a treatise on campanology in The Nine Tailors, Greenwood is not averse to some well- placed arcane knowledge; this time it's mathematics and music. Murder with Mendelssohn includes the demise of an orchestral conductor who has been stifled with "quite a lot of sheets of Mendelssohn's oratorio Elijah stuffed down his throat ". Not surprisingly, suspicion falls on the members of the amateur Melbourne Harmony Choir who are about to perform the piece. Phryne's investigation thus affords Greenwood ample opportunity to regale her readers with the inner workings of such choirs, as well as just how Elijah should be performed. The dead conductor, it would appear, was murdering Mendelssohn. Meanwhile, Phryne encounters an old flame, Dr John Wilson, from her years as an ambulance driver in World War I. Wilson is in Melbourne accompanying the brilliant mathematician Rupert Sheffield. The latter is in Australia to give a lecture, but appears to be the target of an assassination attempt. There's a nice moment wh en Sheffield and Phryne first meet as both perform their science of deduction according to Sherlock Holmes. 'Apart from the fact that you are wealthy, have a black cat in the house, use Jicky [Phryne's favourite French perfume] and have slightly sprained your ankles dancing, I know little about you," Sheffield notes with supercilious satisfaction. Phryne, never one to be outdone, responds in withering kind. Onlooker John Wilson is amused. The brilliant Rupert Sheffield, he notes, may just have met his match. And so he has. Like her heroine, Greenwood has never been more confident and confronting, which leads to the cheering conclusion that while we might applaud TV Phryne's onscreen triumphs, the Phryne of the fiction is dancing to her own inimitable tune.
Booklist
The unsinkable flapper, Miss Phryne Fisher, returns in her twentieth Australian adventure. Detective Inspector Jack Robinson once again relies on Phyrne’s sophisticated sensibilities to shed some light on a case. This time it’s the murder of conductor Hugh Tregennis, who had been preparing for a performance of Mendelssohn’s Elijah in Melbourne. No one in the choir seems sorry for his loss. Did one of them shove a score down his throat? Phyrne is also occupied with John Wilson, a wartime lover whose affections are usually reserved for men. He is in Melbourne accompanying Rupert Sheffield, a famed code-breaker who is on the lecture circuit. The pompous mathematician discounts Phyrne’s “women’s intuition” until her deductions help save his life and force him to admit his feelings for his traveling companion. Being somewhat ahead of her time in terms of sexual freedom, Phyrne displays an easy acceptance of Wilson’s homosexuality and an understanding of the need for caution in a society that still criminalized the behavior. A must-read for series fans and a charming introduction for those who haven’t yet made Miss Fisher’s acquaintance.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781464202483
  • Publisher: Poisoned Pen Press
  • Publication date: 5/6/2014
  • Series: Murder and Mendelssohn Series , #20
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 250
  • Sales rank: 90,494
  • Product dimensions: 5.40 (w) x 8.40 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author


Kerry Greenwood's novels include the Corinna Chapman series and the Phryne Fisher mysteries, recently made into an acclaimed TV program currently in its second series (Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries). She is also the author of many books for young adults, the Delphic Women series and Out Of The Black Land, a novel of ancient Egypt. Murder and Mendelssohn is the 20th Phryne Fisher mystery and her 62nd novel.
 
She is not married, has no children, lives with a registered Wizard, and when she is not writing she stares blankly out the window
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Read an Excerpt

Murder and Mendelssohn

A Phryne Fisher Mystery


By Kerry Greenwood

Poisoned Pen Press

Copyright © 2014 Kerry Greenwood
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-4642-0248-3


CHAPTER 1

As from the pow'r of Sacred Lays The Spheres began to move; And sung the great Creator's praise To all the bless'd above; So, when the last and dreadful Hour This crumbling Pageant shall devour, The TRUMPET shall be heard on high, The dead shall live, the living die, And MUSICK shall untune the Sky.

John Dryden "A Song for St. Cecilia's Day"


It was a quiet St. Kilda morning in the summer of 1929. The Hon. Miss Phryne Fisher was sitting in her jasmine bower, drenched in scent. She was wearing a pale green silk gown embroidered with golden phoenixes, the symbol of the empress. Flaming pearls of longevity burned their way, comet-like, upon her fluttering sleeves. Her hair was as shiny as patent leather, cut in a neat bob which swung forward as she read. She was nibbling a croissant and drinking cafe au lait. With her pink cheeks and red lips and green eyes, she looked like a hand-coloured French fashion plate.

Sitting on the table in a pose made famous by Basht, goddess of cats, was her black cat Ember. He was waiting for the tidbits that her fellow breakfaster would undoubtedly award such a beautiful cat who had not even ventured a paw toward that luscious stack of crispy bacon, though if a suitable offering wasn't made fairly soon, was contemplating preemptive action.

Phryne ought to have been reading Vogue, or perhaps some yellow-backed scandalous French novel, occasionally making arch comments to her lover, who would be exhausted from a night of passion. Instead, to ruin the picture, she was reading an autopsy report, and her companion was a tired-out police detective, eating one of Mrs. Butler's breakfasts and absorbing very strong tea as a corrective to not getting any sleep.

Dot, Phryne's companion, was embroidering waratahs on her hope chest table linen. She fully intended to marry Detective Sergeant Hugh Collins in due course, and had no wish to be found unprepared for that happy event. Tinker and Jane were playing chess in the arbour. Ruth was in the kitchen with Mrs. Butler, cook to the household, shelling peas and discussing ways to cook pineapple. The black and white sheepdog Molly was lying under the table with her head on the inspector's foot, confident that he would drop bacon rind before his toes went numb. This trick had always worked for Molly, and if it didn't on this occasion, she had a way of laying her head confidingly in a male lap with just a hint of teeth that invariably produced results.

A steady hum of useful activity serenaded Mr. Butler as he sat down on his comfortable chair and sipped his after-breakfast cup of coffee. Fortunately, he could not hear the topic of conversation.

"All right," said Phryne, putting down the report and pouring her favourite policeman another cup of the stewed licorice black tea. Just the way he liked it: enough tannic acid to dye a cauldron full of stockings. To which he then added milk and three lumps of sugar. Generations of tea aficionados rolled in their graves. "I've read it. Someone has stifled an orchestral conductor with really quite a lot of sheets of Mendelssohn's Elijah stuffed down his throat."

"Right," said the detective inspector.

"Seems excessive, even as musical criticism," commented Phryne. "Your doctor has done a competent examination. Taken samples of blood, urine, and stomach contents. Noted no signs of struggle, no scratches or bruises except those on his shoulders, which seem to mean that the murderer knelt on him while suffocating him. I think those are kneecap marks. And he didn't struggle because he had a tummy full of—" her eyebrows lifted "—enough opiates to knock out a smallish rhinoceros. In fact, enough to kill him, which makes the added sheet music supererogatory. Baroque, verging on rococo. A flamboyant murderer, Jack dear, with a point to prove."

"Yes," said Jack. "But what point? I don't know anything about music. And I don't know anything about these ... these sort of people. I thought." His voice trailed off and he took a strengthening gulp of the tar-water tea.

Phryne smiled. She knew how much Jack Robinson hated asking for her unofficial and potentially world-shattering help. She volunteered.

"I have always liked Mendelssohn," she told him. "Who is performing it?"

"The Melbourne Harmony Choir, with the Occasional Orchestra. Amateurs but with professional soloists and a professional conductor," Jack read from his notebook. "The dead man was called Hedley Tregennis. Forty-five, born in Richmond, separated from his wife, no children. Bit of a reputation for being loud, insulting, and impatient."

"That applies to most conductors," said Phryne.

"See? I don't know all this stuff. They're having a rehearsal tonight at the Scots Church Assembly Hall, just before the lantern lecture. Can you come along with me? You're sure to notice things that I won't. Just as long," added Jack Robinson anxiously, noticing the bright interest in those green eyes, "you don't get the idea that it's your case, or anything silly like that."

"Of course not," cooed Phryne. "What time? Can I pick you up?"

"Mr. Butler driving?" asked Jack Robinson. Miss Fisher drove like a demon and he had to keep his eyes shut the whole journey, in case he saw how many breaches of the traffic laws she committed, and closing his eyes in a moving car made him queasy.

"Yes, there will be nowhere to leave the car on Collins Street."

"Right, then, five thirty at the police station," he told her.

"What's the lantern lecture?" she asked, as he dropped bacon rinds to Molly, fed Ember a large piece of the same, and wiped his mouth preparatory to facing the world again.

"Some bloke called Rupert Sheffield," he said. "On the science of deduction. Ought to ask him to help," he added, and left, thanking Mrs. Butler on the way out through the kitchen.

Phryne was unexpectedly stung. Science of deduction? What did any man called Rupert know about deduction that the Hon. Miss Phryne Fisher didn't know?

Ridiculous. She shook herself into order like an affronted cat and ate the rest of her croissant with a sharp snap of her white teeth.

"We got a case, Guv?" asked Tinker. A Queenscliff fisher boy, he had attached himself at heel, like a small scruffy terrier, and Phryne had decided that he might be useful. As well as being endearingly intelligent. And devoted to Sexton Blake. He had fitted in well. Phryne's adopted daughter Jane found him clever and was teaching him chess. Her other adopted daughter Ruth liked his appetite, which was reliably voracious, even for cooking experiments which had slightly failed. Mr. and Mrs. Butler appreciated the supply of fresh fish and Dot liked having someone sleeping in the back garden, which made her feel more secure. Molly liked accompanying him on fishing expeditions. Ember tolerated him with his usual amused disdain. Ember was utterly uninterested in any other humans apart from his own family (Phryne, Ruth, and Jane), whom he considered to be under his protecting paw. Others might be awarded some passing notice if they came bearing food. Possibly. Tinker was bearable, and pleasantly free with his fish.

That meant that Tinker was enveloped in a glow of approval from the entire household, which in turn had meant that Tinker could be easy in their company. He adored Phryne with his whole heart. And, together with Dot, he worried about her. She was far too bold for someone who was only five-foot-two and weighed in at about seven stone in a wringing wet army overcoat.

However, he thought, as he returned to Phryne's briefing on this odd murder, even the Guv'nor couldn't get into too much trouble at a choir rehearsal and a lantern lecture.

Could she?

As he often did, Tinker felt uneasy, and shared a glance with Dot. She was concerned, too.

"Any ideas?" Phryne asked her household.

"Must be very angry," offered Jane.

"Why angry?"

"Didn't just want Mr. Tregennis dead," said Jane, who was destined to be a doctor. "He would have died with that overdose. He was dying, in fact, wasn't he, when the music was stuffed into his mouth?"

"Probably," agreed Phryne.

"If the murderer just wanted to get rid of the bloke, then the morphine would have done the trick," said Tinker, with the callousness of fourteen. "But that wasn't enough."

"And if the murderer wanted him to suffer, he went the wrong way about it," said Dot. "The poor man can't have felt a thing."

"Yes, and isn't that odd?" commented Phryne. "The music stuffed into the mouth is, as my learned colleague says, an act of rage. But the method of death, as my other learned colleague observes, is peaceful and painless. Not a mark on him, no struggle, no bruises. And from this we can surmise."

"Well," said Jane, "either the murderer is mad, a person of moods."

"Yes," said Phryne. "Or?"

"Or the murderer is two people," said Dot. "One who just wants him dead and one who's real furious at him."

"Yes," said Phryne, "or ...?"

"The murderer's weak," said Tinker. "Not strong enough to hold the bloke down and suffocate him without drugging him first."

Phryne continued, reading from her notes. Jack had rather meanly taken his file with him. "Now, stomach contents disclose that he had eaten a rather expensive snack just before he died. Half a dozen fresh oysters, a slice or two of smoked salmon, a small piece of stilton, and water biscuits."

"Expensive is right," commented Ruth. "Stilton has to be specially imported, oysters are really unsafe to eat unless you buy the ones from select fishmongers, and smoked salmon comes from Scotland."

"Correct. As last meals go, it is a rather lavish one. He seems to have drunk ..."

"Champagne?" suggested Ruth, who knew which wines were appropriate for shellfish. Mr. Butler was a mine of information on the subject.

"No, oddly enough, a sweet dessert wine. Muscat, perhaps, or Imperial Tokay," replied Phryne. "Which is costly, but in my opinion has a tawdry taste and is far too sugary."

"But I bet it would cover up the taste of the poison," said Dot. "Like putting bitter medicine into syrup."

"Never fooled me," said Phryne, brooding darkly on the cough medicines of her youth. She particularly had it in for Buckley's Canadiol Mixture, which tasted like rendered-down pine trees. "But a good notion, Dot dear. Presumably Mr. Tregennis had a sweet tooth, his poisoner knew that, and instead of providing a light dry sparkling wine with his after-rehearsal amuse-bouche, gave him a glass of some noxious wine which would hide the poison. Morphine is extremely bitter. Only other way to hide it would be in a naturally bitter drink or food. Keep that in mind next time you are contemplating murder."

"Six months ago, Miss, I would have been shocked at that comment," said Dot.

Phryne beamed at her. "See how you've been coming along, Dot dear? Well done!"

Dot was not sure whether this was a sign of growing sophistication or an indication of moral degeneracy, and decided to confess it to her local priest in due course. He was an old priest. He would cope.

"The body was found on the floor of the conductor's room. He had been dead for some time. The cleaning lady found him when she came in to sweep at six this morning. He was last seen—by everyone else—retreating there and slamming the door after an unusually fraught rehearsal. He seems to have been a short-tempered bully, and one wonders if the entire choir—or perhaps only the basses—decided to remove him."

She looked up to see if the joke had registered. No one smiled. She decided that she really must see to the musical education of her minions, and went on.

"No sign of any plates, glasses, or cutlery," she told them. "Whoever brought the food took all evidence away with them. The usual police search found no suicide note, no useful calling cards, matchbooks, foreign coins, obscure words written on the walls, or scales of rare venomous reptiles."

"Oh." Tinker was disappointed.

"The choir departed in a body and caught the tram into Carlton, where they went to a sly-grog pub and sang very rude songs until at least three in the morning."

"But they can't have been in full view all the time," objected Dot. "Some of them must have, you know, visited the conveniences, gone out for a breath of air—any one of them could have come back to poison Mr. Tregennis."

"Yes, Dot, true," said Phryne. "That is why Jack wanted me to come and look at his choristers. In case something leaps to mind."

"Where did the food come from?" asked Ruth, who had been thinking deeply. "That's not ordinary pie cart stuff, that's expensive hotel food."

"Another thing which the overworked constabulary are even now trying to ascertain." Phryne leafed through her notes. "Questions?"

"Any sign that he had ... been with a lady?" asked Dot, even more convinced of her eventual destination. "No lipstick marks, things like that?"

"I am not going to harrow your innocent ears with the ghastly details, Dot, but he certainly hadn't had any close communion with anyone for some days, and only Jane can ask me how I know that, and only if she looks up the anatomy text first on seminal vesicles. And asks me in private. No lipstick, greasepaint, love bites, or other indelicate things, but long blonde hairs on his coat. Blondes are being asked pointed questions as we speak."

"Because it is the sort of intimate supper they describe in Larousse Gastronomique," added Ruth. "Oysters, smoked salmon, wine. Even though it's the wrong wine." Ruth was aggrieved. Anyone who could afford smoked salmon ought to know that it went with champagne.

"It might have been a love affair gone wrong," said Jane.

"Then why stuff music down the poor bloke's throat?" asked Tinker.

Phryne patted his shoulder.

"We need, as Sherlock Holmes would say, more data. So I shall go out this evening and get some, and I would rather go alone, darlings. Then I shall come back and we shall discuss it. All right?"

"If you say so, Guv," said Tinker, on behalf of them all.

"Good. Very good, all of you." Phryne smiled general approval. "You have all done very well. Science of deduction, indeed," she added, and swept into the house to bathe and dress.

"It's just a choir rehearsal," said Jane to Tinker. "How much trouble can she get into at a choir rehearsal?"

"She's Miss Phryne," said Dot. "She could get into trouble in heaven. God forgive me," she added, and crossed herself.

CHAPTER 2

All things shall perish from under the sky, Music alone shall live, music alone shall live, Music alone shall live, never to die.

—Traditional round


Phryne remembered the stairs up to the Scots Church Assembly Hall. She put on a low-heeled pair of shoes, as she had slightly sprained her ankles dancing the Charleston two nights before. Not wishing to overawe the choir, she dressed in a decently quiet turquoise dress, jacket, and hat and took a large handbag. As usual her petticoat pocket contained emergency requisites: a spare lighter, a banknote, cigarettes, a pearl-handled .22 Beretta. One never knew what the exigencies of rehearsal might entail. Mr. Butler drove Phryne and her policeman with calm and dignity into the city, left them at the corner of Collins and Russell streets, and took the car to the garage where it had been built. He had instructions to come back at nine. Phryne had decided to watch the lantern lecture. It might even be instructive.

She was making suggestions to Jack Robinson as she felt her way, a little gingerly, up the stairs. Hugh Collins waited at the door.

"You need to find out who brought that food, Jack dear, and I suggest you start with the hotel just across the road. That was, as Ruth pointed out, expensive provender, not available from just any soup kitchen. Then you need to find the conductor's lover."

"His lover?" asked Jack.

"Well, yes, that aphrodisiac little supper was an invitation of sorts. Then you need to talk to the choir's librarian."

"Why?" asked Jack.

At that moment someone caught Phryne around the waist and dragged her into a close embrace. He never knew how close he was to a knee where it would not have been appreciated because, fortunately for him, Phryne recognised him and flung her arms around his neck.

"John!" she exclaimed. "John Wilson, how can you possibly be here? One moment." She turned in his arms and said to Jack Robinson, "The librarian has all the scores, numbered. Get her to call them all in. That music had to come from somewhere. I'll be in directly."

Jack Robinson shook his head, collected his detective sergeant, and entered the hall. John Wilson chuckled.

"Still the same Phryne, eh?" he asked. "And it's Dr. John, now."

"Oh, excellent, so you went back after ... afterwards?"

John Wilson had been a medical student in 1918 when he had been dragged from his residency and dropped into the Battle of the Somme. He had run a forward casualty-clearing station, dipped deep in blood and death. Horrified, shell-shocked and twenty-two years old, he had met Phryne, bringing in the wounded. There, in her ambulance, under bombardment, he and Phryne had mutually ripped the clothes off each other and mated fiercely, deaf from shelling, desperate to find a warm living body to hang on to while the world bled and fractured and blew up around them. Thereafter Phryne had invited him into her ambulance frequently. He had always been delighted to accept her invitation, alone of the women in the world, for John Wilson's heart was given to men. Phryne seemed to be in a different category. He had often puzzled about it. However, she was exceptional.


(Continues...)

Excerpted from Murder and Mendelssohn by Kerry Greenwood. Copyright © 2014 Kerry Greenwood. Excerpted by permission of Poisoned Pen Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Sort by: Showing all of 15 Customer Reviews
  • Posted June 28, 2014

    This was my first Phryne Fisher mystery that I have read and qui

    This was my first Phryne Fisher mystery that I have read and quite honestly I found it quite boring. I found it stuffed with to much information about her household and how she converted a gay man to straight, and the drawn out descriptions of choir rehearsal

    ***I received this book in exchange for an honest review****.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 6, 2014

    Phryne Fisher's Continued Adventures

    I have read 19 of the 20 Phryne Fisher mysteries and consider myself a fan of Ms. Greenwood, but I must say Phryne is becoming less interesting as Ms. Greenwood seems to push the limit with Phryne's liberal nature. The story line seems bent on shock value as much as good old who dun it mystery and the cozy atmosphere Ms. Greenwood built for Phryne's home life. I will be less interested in the next installment of Phryne's adventures.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 3, 2014

    more from this reviewer

    The Hon. Phryne Fisher, even after 20 novels, remains true to he

    The Hon. Phryne Fisher, even after 20 novels, remains true to herself in this latest mystery in which she even joins a chorus to sing Mendelssohn’s Elijah, exhibiting yet another talent to her apparently unlimited repertoire. The reason she undertakes the task is because not one but two conductors have been murdered and Detective Inspector Jack Robinson is not only at a loss to solve the crimes but is completely unfamiliar with the world of music.

    A side plot involves matchmaking and preventing the murder of a former code-breaker, Rupert Sheffield, by Phryne plotting to join him up with an old acquaintance from the trenches in France when she was an ambulance driver in the Great War and pitting a couple of gangs against each other to eliminate the bosses.

    The accustomed cast of characters to whom readers have become addicted, Dot, Mr. and Mrs. Butler, Jane, Ruth and Tinker, all play their roles with aplomb. And the usual touch of sex in the series play a major part in this one, as homosexuality, certainly a forbidden subject for the period (the 1930’s), is a central focus (not to mention Phryne’s free spirit and penchant for lovemaking with anyone to whom she is attracted). All in all, lots of fun, and recommended.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 15, 2014

    Stormpaw

    Stormpaw refreshed a border marker, wrinkling his nose at the fading scent of HorseClan.

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 14, 2014

    SoulStorm

    He patrolled around, scent marking several areas.

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 8, 2014

    Starkit

    A tiny black shekit pads in, mewling.

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 14, 2014

    Dapplefeather

    Dapplefeather patrolled around, looking for any signs of trouble.

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 10, 2014

    Deer

    Where are you guys?))

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 9, 2014

    Fox

    Okee.))

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 9, 2014

    Sea

    Yea ok

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 22, 2014

    |Rainclan's Border|

    To the northeast of The Grea

    |Rainclan's Border| <br />

    <br />

    To the northeast of The Great Oak rise impressive mountains, unparalleled in size. Shrubby bushes and stunted trees dot the cliff sides while a stream splashes down to form a beautiful waterfall, its mist cool and constant. Mice scurry from crack to crack, searching for seeds while eagles swoop overhead. Caves lie hidden behind boulders and crevasses, sometimes offering smelting but also concealing cougars with lethal intent. At times mountain goats scramble parlously up the steep rock, powerful north winds buffeting their fur and threatening to throw unsteady creatures to their death. This place can only be the border to Rainclan's territory, the steady and true. <br />

    <br />

    Hey everyone! Just clarifying the borders of each clan with a little narrative. Remember to patrol your borders daily and attack another clan by posting here and then at their camp. Feel free to have border crisis' to spice things up! <br />

    <br />

    ~ Rainclan's Border: Lilywolf, Original Pact Clan Organizer.

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 23, 2014

    Snow-Capped Peaks ~ Lilywolf &hearts

    Leafbare has covered the mountains of Rainclan with plenty of snow. Frozen waterfalls and the shimmer of snow on the wind brings beauty with the cold. But the freezing temperatures cause the rocks to be bitterly cold and delicate paws are at risk of frost bite. Predators such as eagles are starving and as a result, threat of attack from the sky increases. Only with the arrival of newleaf will many of these dangers disappear and it can not come too quickly. ~ Snow-Capped Peaks, Lilywolf &hearts

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 4, 2014

    Of the Kerry Greenwood series, the Phryne Fisher is my favorite.

    Of the Kerry Greenwood series, the Phryne Fisher is my favorite. Phryne does what she wants, but she is extremely generous with her time and money to those in need. In this novel, the reader learns about music and the performing of Mendelssohn's music. There are times when I feel that Greenwood presents too many sexual encounters. The scenes are done tastefully, but happen too often. Also, Phryne seems to be constantly taking a bath which seems a little reminiscent of Lady Macbeth washing her hands in Shakespeare. What is Phryne trying to rinse away? The characters are delicious and extremely distinct. The description of food and mixed drinks forces me to the kitchen in search of what cannot be found. Greenwood accosts all the senses with her books.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 27, 2014

    Phryne Fisher is always unexpected and outrageous, as she is in

    Phryne Fisher is always unexpected and outrageous, as she is in this book. And she is not like Mata Hari! (Only better!). I love all of the Phryne Fisher books. Since I have sung in choirs, I found this one particularly interesting.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 29, 2014

    No text was provided for this review.

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