Unnatural Habits (Phryne Fisher Series #19)

Unnatural Habits (Phryne Fisher Series #19)

4.5 11
by Kerry Greenwood
     
 

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1929: Girls are going missing in Melbourne. Little, pretty, golden haired girls. And not just pretty. Three of them are pregnant, poor girls from the harsh confines of the Magdalene Laundry. People are getting nervous.

Polly Kettle, a pushy, self important Girl Reporter with ambition and no sense of self preservation, decides to investigate and promptly goes

Overview

1929: Girls are going missing in Melbourne. Little, pretty, golden haired girls. And not just pretty. Three of them are pregnant, poor girls from the harsh confines of the Magdalene Laundry. People are getting nervous.

Polly Kettle, a pushy, self important Girl Reporter with ambition and no sense of self preservation, decides to investigate and promptly goes missing herself.

It’s time for Phryne and Dot to put a stop to this and find Polly Kettle before something quite irreparable happens to all of them. It’s all piracy and dark cellars, convents and plots, murder and mystery …. and Phryne finally finds out if it’s true that blondes have more fun.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
When thugs assault an unescorted woman on a Melbourne street in Greenwood’s entertaining 19th Phryne Fisher mystery set in 1920s Australia (after 2010’s Dead Man’s Chest), Fisher, who’s on her way to her club, comes to the rescue. Reporter Margaret “Polly” Kettle, the intended victim, has been tracking down leads for a story on three pregnant girls who disappeared from the Magdalen Laundry at the Abbotsford convent. With the police uninterested, Polly appeals to Phryne for aid, but before Phryne’s inquiries can advance very much, Polly herself is abducted. The sleuth encounters more than a little human misery in her quest, and, endowed with a generosity of spirit and ample financial resources, puts things right wherever possible. 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. (Jan.)
From the Publisher
"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

"Greenwood’s 19th entry (after Dead Man’s Chest) in her long-running and justifiably popular historical cozy-with-a-social-conscience series is not to be missed. Not only are readers treated to vivid descriptions of late 1920s Melbourne, but clever turns of phrase and witty humor make the journey a treat. While the story is historical in setting, Greenwood’s tone and ensemble cast could also appeal to G.M. Malliet fans; Dorothy Sayers aficionados need look no further." —Library Journal Starred Review

"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

"Greenwood weaves in a local legend involving pirates and missing treasure, and Phryne makes friends with some wacky surrealists in this very enjoyable eighteenth series entry." —Booklist of Dead Man's Chest

"Greenwood keeps the action moving as swiftly as milady's Hispano-Suiza" —Publishers Weekly of Murder on a Midsummer's Night

"One of the most exciting and dangerous of the adventures into which Phryne's fabulous and risky lifestyle have led her."  —Kirkus Reviews of Murder in the Dark

Library Journal
Phryne Fisher, Australia’s inimitable sleuth and flapper, returns to help the police find not only Polly Kettle, a reporter who’s gone missing, but also three young unwed mothers who have disappeared from the nursing home where they had been banished because of their pregnancies. Polly had been investigating rumors of missing young women—not just pregnant ones—and now it looks as if she’s been kidnapped, too. As always, Phryne defies convention and plows in wherever she feels an answer might be found. Enlisting help from an assortment of allies (commune residents, gay club owners, brothel madams), the charismatic Phryne pursues justice with vigilante fervor. ¬ VERDICT Greenwood’s 19th entry (after Dead Man’s Chest ) in her long-running and justifiably popular historical cozy-with-a-social-conscience series is not to be missed. Not only are readers treated to vivid descriptions of late 1920s Melbourne, but clever turns of phrase and witty humor make the journey a treat. While the story is historical in setting, Greenwood’s tone and ensemble cast could also appeal to G.M. Malliet fans; Dorothy Sayers aficionados need look no further. [See Prepub Alert, 8/20/12.]

(c) Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Kirkus Reviews
Australia's answer to Lord Peter Wimsey takes on white slavers and the Catholic Church. The Honorable Phryne Fisher and a friend are on their way to the Adventuresses Club when they see a lone woman about to be attacked by several thugs. After the minions of Phryne's lover, Lin Chung, chase them off, Phryne finds she that she's rescued an ambitious, rather ungrateful young reporter named Polly Kettle who's investigating the disappearance of three women, pregnant and unmarried, who'd been working in the Magdalen Laundry at the Abbotsford convent. Late in their pregnancies, they were to be sent to a nursing home where the babies would be delivered and immediately taken away. According to Polly, the police have no interest in the case. When no bodies turn up, Phryne embarks on what will be a dangerous quest to learn the women's whereabouts. Although she's certain that the local brothels wouldn't be interested in such pregnant females, she discovers that an employment agency seems to be collecting very young women and shipping them overseas, never to be seen again. The police, in the person of Phryne's friend Jack Robinson, are forced to investigate when Polly is kidnapped. After calling on the laundry, whose working conditions are much less pleasant than those in the brothels she's visited, Phryne, who cannot abide injustice and cruelty, goes up against some well-armored antagonists in an attempt to find Polly and the other missing girls. 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.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781464201257
Publisher:
Poisoned Pen Press
Publication date:
01/08/2013
Series:
Phryne Fisher Series, #19
Pages:
250
Sales rank:
109,150
Product dimensions:
5.40(w) x 8.30(h) x 0.90(d)

Read an Excerpt

Unnatural Habits

A Phryne Fisher Mystery
By Kerry Greenwood

Poisoned Pen Press

Copyright © 2012 Kerry Greenwood
All right reserved.

ISBN: 978-1-46420-123-3


Chapter One

'Do you believe in clubs for women, Uncle?' 'Yes, but only after every other method of quieting them has failed.' Punch cartoon, 1890

The attack came suddenly. Out of the hot darkness in the notorious Little Lon came three thugs armed with bicycle chains. The tallest lashed his against the crumbling side of a building. It hit a metal sign advertising Dr. Parkinson's Pink Pills for Pale People, which rang like a drum.

'An ominous noise,' commented Dr. Elizabeth MacMillan.

'The natives are restless,' agreed her companion. She was the Hon. Miss Phryne Fisher, five-feet-two with eyes of green and black hair cut into a cap. They were not the target of this assault. They were blamelessly approaching the Adventuresses Club bent on nothing more controversial than a White Lady (Phryne) and a dram of good single malt (Dr. MacMillan) and an evening's exchange of views on weather, politics and medicine. But Little Lonsdale Street was always liable to provide unexpected experiences.

However, the person who was fated for a good shellacking appeared to be lone, female and unprotected, which could not be allowed. Phryne turned abruptly on her Louis heel and, putting both fingers in her mouth, whistled shrilly.

'Look out, boys!' she yelled. 'Cops!'

Usually, this was a sound strategy. As police always entered Little Lonsdale Street in parties of four, the thugs would be outnumbered. It was just their bad luck, this evening, that they were led by a foolhardy tough with no sense of self-preservation. News like Phryne got around. He should have recognised her. But instead of a tactical withdrawal, he swung the chain again and struck a sign advertising Castlemaine Bacon (none finer). He advanced on Phryne and the doctor. She looked at her companion.

'You can't say I didn't give them a chance to get away,' said Phryne apologetically.

Dr. MacMillan waved a Scottish hand.

'You did,' she admitted.

Phryne raised an arm and made a circling movement. Men dressed in blue cotton appeared out of the darkness. They fell on the chain wielder and his satellites. To the noise of crunching bone and flesh hitting walls and pavement, Phryne and the doctor walked through the lesson (do not attack the concubine of our master Lin Chung unless you have a tank and a Lewis Gun and probably not then) and spoke to the intended victim, who was still cowering against a dustbin with her arms protecting her face.

'Hello,' said Phryne. 'Did they hurt you?'

'Didn't get started,' said the victim in a cultured voice. Not a working girl, then. 'What did you do with them?'

'Over there.' Phryne directed her attention to the melee, which had almost resolved into three untouched Chinese men and a heap of damaged thugs, groaning for burial or at least a stiff drink and a few bandages. The young woman boggled at the sight.

'Who are the Chinks?'

Phryne winced. 'The Chinese,' she said coldly. 'They follow me when I wander around this bit of the city. Their master is concerned for my safety. Not that I cannot look after myself. What have you done to attract this kind of attention, I wonder?'

'Asking too many questions,' replied the girl. She was small and plump. Her hair was shingled as short as the doctor's and her clothes were expensive. And not what they had been, sartorially.

'Always unwise in Little Lon. Can we offer you a drink and a new pair of stockings? I'm Phryne Fisher, and this is Doctor MacMillan of the Queen Victoria hospital, and our club is just over there.'

'Oh, Miss Fisher!' the young woman gasped. She pinkened. 'Of course. Thank you! I am a bit of a wreck.'

Phryne caught the eye of the blue-clad warriors. She bowed with both hands pressed together in front of her breast and indicated the stone entrance of the Adventuresses Club. They nodded and bowed deeply in turn.

'Of course, having a bodyguard does endow one with a certain insouciance in dealing with the denizens of Little Lon,' Phryne told the girl. 'Might we know your name?'

'Oh, sorry. Kettle,' said the young woman. 'Margaret Kettle—but everyone calls me Polly. I'm a reporter.'

'You are not, I understand, hoping to write any stories about this club?' demanded Dr. MacMillan.

'No!' protested Polly. 'No, certainly not, that was not what brought me to Little Lon.'

'Lips sealed?' asked Phryne.

'Buttoned,' promised Polly earnestly. She could see her drinks and her stockings vanishing just as she thought that they were hers. And she really needed a drink. Gently brought-up girls seldom met thugs in noisome alleys, and she was shaken.

'All right, then. My guest, Molly,' Phryne told the female giant sitting in the porter's chair. 'Bung over the book and I'll sign her in. Quiet night?'

'Until you got here,' grinned Molly. 'I expect cops'll be along to scrape up the remains soon. Better get inside before anyone starts asking questions.'

They ascended the stairs. Outside, a ragged boy settled down under the verandah. He attracted no attention whatsoever, except from Molly, who gave him a pie left over from her dinner. It was a good pie, though he did not eat it with the galloping ferocity of the truly starved. But he ate it. It was a good pie.

* * *

Phryne watched Dr. MacMillan settle Miss Kettle into a padded chair while she ordered drinks and a brief lease on the Withdrawing Room. This was kept supplied with first-aid equipment and the means for repairing or replacing clothes, plus emergency brandy and a young woman who could be summoned for comforting the bereaved or supplying new garments, whichever was required. Her name tonight was Annie. She thought this the best job she had ever had, as emergencies were not common in the club. Annie spent most of her time in the kitchen, being fed tidbits by the cooks and drinking as much tea as she could hold. Summoned, she conducted Miss Kettle into the Withdrawing Room. There she sat the reporter down, sponged the mud of Little Lon off her knees and palms, provided her with new hosiery and allowed her to wash her face and comb her hair while Annie attended to her clothes.

Polly Kettle had not been so tended since she was six and had fallen out of a tree which she had been expressly forbidden to climb. She drank her sal volatile, her hot sugared tea and then her brandy obediently. Annie smiled at her.

'There you are, Miss, no harm done,' she told the patient. 'I just caught up the split seam and put back the hem.' She surveyed Polly critically. 'You'll do.'

'Thank you,' murmured Polly, in a medicated haze. 'Are you a ladies' maid?'

'No, Miss, they call me an attendant,' said Annie. Polly saw that she was a meagre underfed creature, perhaps eighteen years old, with a scarred face. No one else, perhaps, would employ her. There were plenty of unemployed girls. Annie noticed her look.

'Burns,' she explained. 'I fell into the fire when I was a child.'

'Do you like working here?' asked Polly, her reporter's instinct asserting itself.

Annie broke into a pleased smile, strangely distorted by the scars.

'Oh, yes, Miss, the ladies are very kind, the pay is good, and no one objects to the way I look.' She opened the door to admit Polly again to the Sitting Room. Polly went where directed, still bemused.

Dr. MacMillan and Phryne Fisher were ensconced by an open window. Phryne was sipping from a frosted glass. Polly licked her lips.

'Come and have a drink,' invited Phryne. 'And if you sit there you will share our cooling breeze. What would you like?'

'Gin and tonic, please,' said Polly. 'Thank you so much for looking after me.'

'Not at all.' Phryne waved her unoccupied hand. 'We are expecting you to enthrall us. Serena, a G and T for Miss Kettle, if you please.'

Serena obliged, and minutes later Polly was clutching a frosted glass of her own.

'Now,' said Phryne cozily, as she drew Polly down to sit next to her, 'do tell!'

'Girls are going missing from the Magdalen Laundry at the Abbotsford convent,' said Polly. Her hearers failed to gasp or exclaim. Polly, a little disappointed, took a deep gulp of her drink. It was strong and shocked a little pink into her pale cheeks.

'Yes?' prompted Phryne.

'Three of them so far. Mary O'Hara, Jane Reilly, Ann Prospect. Sent out to stay with a pious widow in Footscray and vanished.'

'Not just run away? I would, if I was sent to a pious widow,' said Phryne.

'Pregnant,' said Polly baldly, disdaining euphemism. 'Very pregnant. Within a month of delivery. The pious widow runs a nursing home in Footscray. My newspaper's Mr. Bates interviewed her and she was unable to tell him what had happened to the girls, or why they should run away when they were so close to their time. Ann Prospect has relatives. They have not heard from her. The same for the others. No one has heard from them. The police are not interested.'

'But you are?' asked the doctor.

'I am,' said Polly.

'Why?'

'I'm a reporter,' said Polly defiantly. 'I work for the Daily Truth. They only want female reporters to write about fashion and food and babies and turn in reports of flower shows (getting all the names correct). I want a scoop.'

'In order to prove to your proprietor that you are a real reporter?' asked Phryne.

'Yes!' said Polly.

'A laudable ambition,' said Phryne.

'No one cares about bad girls!' Polly burst out indignantly.

'They make one mistake and they are shut up in the laundry doing hard work. Their babies are adopted out. They are ruined. We ought to have got beyond that. What use is freedom—they told us that we fought that war for freedom—when the women are still punished and the men go on to seduce another girl?'

'Indeed,' said the doctor gravely.

'The cops told me that they had just run away to go on the street,' said Polly. 'Who is going to buy your body when you are eight months pregnant? It's ridiculous.'

'Certainly,' said Phryne. 'Have you enquired at the morgue?'

'The morgue?' Polly took another gulp of her drink.

'Well, the three girls are either dead or somewhere else, alive. That is the first thing you need to ascertain. I believe that there is a register of unclaimed bodies. Then, if they are not there, you need to ask at various hospitals. You keep a proper account of your patients, Elizabeth, do you not?'

'Of course,' said Dr. MacMillan. 'Come to the front desk and I will arrange for you to search the records. Of course, some of our patients do not use their real names. We discourage this but we understand it.'

'That is ... very kind of you,' faltered Polly. Life was becoming extremely real at present, she thought.

'And I will ask about who sent your assailants,' said Phryne. She finished her drink and sauntered out. Polly looked at Dr. MacMillan, who seemed reassuringly normal.

'Does she mean to go and ...'

'She does,' said the doctor comfortably.

'Is she always like that?' asked Polly.

'When she was sixteen she was an ambulance driver on the Western Front. I don't think she's been daunted by anything since then,' the doctor told her. 'She flew me into Hebridean crofts during the flu epidemic when she had to land on shingle and strand with sea on one side and cliff on the other and never turned a hair. Miss Fisher is a force of nature and there is never anything you can do about her. Have another drink and appreciate the show. That's what I do. I wonder, now, could any of your girls be at the Queen Vic? Do you have a description of each of them—or, better yet, a photo?'

'They were photographed when they entered the care of the convent,' said Miss Kettle, still bemused. 'I have them here.'

'Show me,' said Dr. MacMillan. 'There will be a reasonable explanation, I'm sure enough of that.'

'And if there isn't?' asked Polly.

'Then we will hand the matter over to Miss Fisher,' said the doctor, sipping her whisky. 'She's very good at the irrational.'

'Oh,' said Polly.

'But none of this is for publication without our permission,' added Dr. MacMillan severely. 'Death may be a public matter, but birth is a female mystery. What was your last line of enquiry, m'dear?'

'Brothels,' said Polly, eschewing euphemism again.

The doctor seemed unmoved.

'Few brothels would employ women in their last trimester of pregnancy.'

'Yes, that's why I wondered if ... They say there are brothels that have special interests. You know, boys, small children, women with one leg, that sort of thing.'

'The depth of male depravity is indeed bottomless,' said Dr. MacMillan. 'And after thirty years in the medical profession nothing now astounds me about evil and the temptations of the devil. But I suspect that I would have heard of such a place. And I haven't.'

Polly had never met anyone like the doctor—or Phryne. Among women of her nice respectable middle class she herself was considered unacceptably bold and even immoral for insisting on a career which did not include reporting on garden parties. Next to her was a group of ladies discussing strange tribal rites in New Guinea. And others were talking about a durbar where the elephants had got drunk and fallen over while curtseying to the governor. And a further group, rather elevated by cocktails, wondered aloud whether taking a lover is permissible only after one's husband has acquired a mistress, or if one could venture on a suitable man before, if the occasion seemed to warrant it. She took refuge in her drink.

Dr. MacMillan was examining the three photographs. She put on her wire-framed glasses and stared.

'No, can't recall seeing any of them,' she commented. 'Plain girls, aren't they? Not good prostitute material, though given those dreadful smocks and difficult situation I suppose they cannot look their best. The brothel market is rather overcrowded at present, you know. Employment is hard to get, even in the pickle factories and the dangerous trades, and so many young men didn't come home from the Great War. Girls who would have expected to marry some respectable tradesman will find no candidates except amongst the damaged and ruined, and that really only exchanges one set of cares for another. They have to work, but female wages are still much lower than men's, as though all of them were just finding a little piecework for pin money, not struggling for survival. So brothels are only accepting the young and pretty and winning. The poor drabs on the street are having a parlous time, I fear. They don't last long.'

Polly was shocked. Fortunately Phryne returned before she had time to burst into tears at the cruelty of female fate.

Miss Fisher was giggling.

'Miss Kettle, did you really ask about pregnant girls in the Blue Cat Club?' she said, sitting down and crooking a finger at the bartender for another White Lady.

'Yes, I heard they had strange tastes,' explained Polly. Phryne patted her hand.

'Yes, indeed, but exclusively male. You have been followed around town tonight by at least three fascinated observers, all watching, I fear, to see which of them was going to get you. The Blue Cat is far too soigné and careful of their manicures to inflict violence, luckily. But two others were dangerous. I should not go anywhere near Corsican Joe's in the near future. The far future, either. Or Madame Paris. I shall talk to her. It was the Corsican's men who tried to beat you. I am fairly confident that they will not attempt that again. And I will take to you meet Madame Paris in due course, if you like. But your enquiries need to go in another direction.'

'Why?' asked Polly. 'And why are you helping me?'

'Well, darling, one does not like to watch a nice little woolly baa-lamb go leaping and gambolling into a field full of large bitey wolves. It has a certain morbid interest, I agree,' said Phryne, sipping deeply. 'But it is basically a blood sport and I don't even like fox-hunting.' She gestured to the photos Dr. MacMillan was holding. 'Have you seen the girls, Elizabeth?'

'Not a one,' said the doctor.

'I thought as much. One of the Corsican's little pals mentioned that there is some sort of farm where pregnant whores have been sent. It sounds like it might be dire. Since even Lin Chung's minions couldn't get anything more out of him, I suspect that is the extent of his knowledge. Asking around,' warned Phryne, 'will be perilous.'

'I don't care,' said Polly stoutly, buoyed by company and gin. 'I'm a reporter with a name to make.'

'Up to you,' shrugged Phryne.

'A little advice?' suggested the doctor.

'Yes, of course,' said Polly.

'Sew your name and address into your undergarments,' said Dr. MacMillan. She observed Polly's look of incomprehension and did not smile.

'Makes it easier to identify your body,' explained Phryne. 'Assuming that they don't strip you naked, of course. Perhaps a tattoo might be better,' she added.

'Yes, dear, but think of the trouble when you changed addresses,' objected the doctor.

Suddenly it was all too much. Polly rose, straightened her new stockings, took her leave, and left. Phryne and Dr. MacMillan exchanged a speaking glance.

'How long do you give her?' asked the doctor in her soft, exact Edinburgh voice.

(Continues...)



Excerpted from Unnatural Habits by Kerry Greenwood Copyright © 2012 by 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.

What People are saying about this

From the Publisher
"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

"Greenwood’s 19th entry (after Dead Man’s Chest) in her long-running and justifiably popular historical cozy-with-a-social-conscience series is not to be missed. Not only are readers treated to vivid descriptions of late 1920s Melbourne, but clever turns of phrase and witty humor make the journey a treat. While the story is historical in setting, Greenwood’s tone and ensemble cast could also appeal to G.M. Malliet fans; Dorothy Sayers aficionados need look no further." —Library Journal Starred Review

"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

"Greenwood weaves in a local legend involving pirates and missing treasure, and Phryne makes friends with some wacky surrealists in this very enjoyable eighteenth series entry." —Booklist of Dead Man's Chest

"Greenwood keeps the action moving as swiftly as milady's Hispano-Suiza" —Publishers Weekly of Murder on a Midsummer's Night

"One of the most exciting and dangerous of the adventures into which Phryne's fabulous and risky lifestyle have led her."  —Kirkus Reviews of Murder in the Dark

Meet the Author

Kerry Greenwood is the author of more than 40 novels and six non-fiction books. Among her many honors, Ms. Greenwood1 has received the Ned Kelly Lifetime Achievement Award from the Crime Writers’ Association of Australia. When she is not writing she is an advocate in Magistrates’ Courts for the Legal Aid Commission. She is not married, has no children and lives with a registered Wizard.

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Unnatural Habits 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 11 reviews.
chefdt More than 1 year ago
What a wonderful time it was to spend some time with Phryne and her minions. Phryne is on her way to meet a friend for drinks when she a lady about to be assaulted, but before she is, she is rescued by those that keep an eye out for Phryne. The lady is Polly Kettle, a reporter, who is chasing a story about three pregnant girls who have gone missing. Before Phryne can get much more information from Polly about the young, unmarried girls, Polly goes missing, too. About this time Jack, her police detective friend, asks if she could help checking on some other young ladies who have also gone missing. They seem to be unrelated, but the more that is learned, maybe they are some how related. With the help of Dorothy, her adopted daughters and delightful young man, Tinker, Phryne is off to sort through the known facts. This leads her to a nearby convent, which is hardly very charitable and to a Socialist commune. Another great addition to Phryne Fischer series by Kerry Greenwood. I'm looking forward to more in the series.
Carl80 More than 1 year ago
I confess it’s a cause for celebration when another Phryne Fisher adventure shows up. Yes, the publisher sent this novel in the hope that I’d give it a review. Yes, I have written elsewhere that I love the Phryne Fisher crime novels. The Honorable Phryne Fisher is an aristocratic displaced single woman living on her inheritance in Melbourne, Australia where she serves the downtrodden and criminally beset. Her relations with a few coppers is excellent and she has over the years, taken to her bosom four needy souls, Dot who became Phryne’s secretary and factotum, and two teenaged girls, Jane and Ruth, rescued from serious poverty. Now a fourth, a boy named Tinker, a lad of unusual skills for one so young has joined the menage. Life on the streets and waterfronts will do that, I suppose. In the early Twentieth Century, when the series is set, women as emancipated as is the Hon. Miss Fisher, are rare indeed. Her wealth is a great help, but so too are her attitudes and her diverse talents. Distant and poor relation of the aristocracy of the UK, the Great War elevated her to wealth and high society. Bored, she decamped to Australia, after a stint as an ambulance driver in the war. She is, in this outing, the mistress of a monstrously wealth Chinese merchant named Lin Chung. The plot centers on the mysterious disappearances of small blond girls from the city. The question of why, since no bodies are discovered, is what has been done with them. At the same time, questions are arising as to the treatment of young pregnant and unmarried women by the local Catholic church. This novel is darker and grittier than most of the previous stories in this series, but Fisher makes do in a most forthright fashion, focusing her justifiable wrath on kidnappers and religious zealots. Smoothly written as always, the pace is jaunty the scenes are well illuminated and the novel is thoroughly satisfying. I live in the hope for more adventures with this most excellent female investigator.
cloggiedownunder More than 1 year ago
Unnatural Habits is the nineteenth book in the popular Phryne Fisher series by Australian author, Kerry Greenwood. A chance encounter with a young female reporter for The Daily Truth in a laneway leads Phryne Fisher to investigate the disappearance of three pregnant girls and said reporter. Margaret Kettle, better known as Polly, is determined to make her name as a serious journalist and steals a colleague’s story on White Slavery. But her enquiries into the fate of three very pregnant teenagers last seen at a pious widow’s nursing home mark the last sighting of the enthusiastic if somewhat careless reporter. Her questions in a variety of places have ruffled some feathers, but whose? Someone associated with the Convent of the Good Shepherd and their workhouse-like Magdalen Laundry business? The owners of local brothels or exclusive Gentlemen’s Clubs? Or does her disgruntled colleague have a hand in her disappearance? What does the employment agency, Jobs For All, have to do with it? And just who is going around performing involuntary vasectomies on deserving males? In this instalment, Phryne makes full use of her daughters (on vacation from school), of Dot, of her new employee, Tink and of her taxi drivers, Bert and Cec. Her minions (as she repeatedly refers to them in this instalment) are put to work on a secret code and other researches as well as taking active parts in the interrogation of witnesses. Phryne adopts an assortment of disguises: a blonde actress, a pregnant girl and a nun, as required by the different strands of the investigation. As well as white slavery, eugenics, virginity tests, kidnapping, slave labour and a female-run fruit-growing collective all feature. With this excellent novel, Greenwood once again proves herself a mistress of historical crime fiction. 
tedfeit0 More than 1 year ago
The long list of Phryne Fisher mysteries revolves around the stylish The Hon. Ms. Fisher and her entourage solving a murder here, another crime there. In this, the 19th in the series, Phryne sets about finding three missing pregnant women and soon discovers other upsetting mysteries to solve: young blonde girls, mostly teenagers, have also gone missing. And then she is confronted with the disappearance of an aspiring young woman reporter who was chasing a story about the missing girls. The police are stymied, and as usual, it falls to Phryne to solve the various cases. And she goes about it in a pretty straightforward manner, albeit not without some difficulties. This novel isn’t like many of its predecessors, which were lighter in tone, with many amusing asides. “Unnatural Habits” is rather dry compared to them. This observation is not a negative, because the novel is an excellent and well-written mystery, just not as amusing as many of the preceding entries in the series, and it is recommended.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Into the coming depression before ww ll or is that only a gathering cloud on the horizon to lose humor in a series is often a sign of burn out. I wish she had continued the bakery series and returned to the families of the roman apartment
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Shadowpaw is alone and has had no training. 'Edge of freedom' last result. He is of Rainclan, and is the son of Willowstar, and the deputy, Oakpride
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Hello, Seafire!))
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Cinderpaw. And it would do good of you kept Thrushpaw and Thistlepaw company!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A brown cat with a white underbelly. His green eyes smoldered with anger. He lashed out at a tree, practicing a smooth vicious fighting move.