I didn’t quite enjoy the Phryne Fisher novels when I was reading them earlier in the year but I just finished with The Castlemaine Murders and it was very enjoyable. In this novel Phryne gets on a ghost train at an amusement park and of course finds a mummified corpse. Finding the identity of the corpse leads to bits familiar from the Miss Fisher series - an Egyptologist, an interview with a cloistered nun and Jane’s interest in embalming - though none of this is in the context of Memses’ Curse, Murdoch Foyle of course was invented for TV.
There is a lot of Lin Chung in this novel, there is a parallel story where Lin is trying to find the family’s lost gold and all these bits are surprisingly pleasurable, though I am not sold on Greenwood’s glorification of concubinage. Lin is quite charming, you can see why diehard fans of the books were not sold on the Phryne-Jack romance.
The other story in this book which also leads to the Victorian goldfields in 1857 features Phryne’s sister Beth. Book sister is very much alive and in the pleasurable grip of lesbianism and socialism. And of course this means one of the singular pleasures of Greenwood’s books - each chapter starts with a Chinese poem or a quote from Shaw’s The Intelligent Woman’s Guide to Socialism and Capitalism.
There isn’t a whole lot of mystery though there are murders but that doesn’t inanyway detract from the book. And yes Miss Fisher has put away the chopsticks on TV but perhaps she needs to bring them out again. Not necessarily for Lin, but for Li Pen, Lin’s bodyguard and a Shaolin monk devoted to vegetarianism, chastity, martial arts and vegemite. Surely it can’t be that hard to have him around for Season 2!
In the meantime please fix yourself some of Mr Butler’s Considering Cocktail and dig into the next book or rewatch the series!
1 part sweet vermouth, 4 parts chilled orange juice, dash of angostura bitters, dash of lemon juice. Combine and shake with crushed ice. Decorate with a twist of lemon peel.
And in the picture: book cover and a Phryne Cupcake made for me by a dear friend:-)