Death Before Wicket
Review: Ostensibly on holiday Phryne Fishers travels from her home in Melbourne to Sydney in Death Before Wicket, the 10th mystery in this entertaining series by Kerry Greenwood.
In fact, Phryne has been summoned to Sydney through a circuitous route of introductions to look into the disappearance of an eclectic assortment of items from a safe at a local university. A classmate of two young men who act as Phryne's escorts in Sydney has been accused of the crime. No sooner has Phryne agreed to investigate then her personal and confidential maid, Dot, reports that her sister is missing, abandoning her husband and children. As a personal favor to Dot, Phryne also agrees to find her, determine why she disappeared, and bring her home. It hardly seems like an ideal way of spending a holiday for most people, but Phryne is certainly in her element.
Death Before Wicket is definitely one of the better books in this series, possibly because, despite the heat of Sydney, Phryne seems fresher and more energetic than in recent outings. Much to her surprise, the theft turns out to be far more complicated that she originally imagined. "I began to investigate it at the insistence of two young men anxious to clear their friend's name. Now I'm up to my elbows in black magicians, tarot cards, foretellings and secrets, and I'm beginning to get quite cross", she says to one of the university professors. Greenwood has clearly done a considerable amount of research on ancient Egyptian mythology and modern Australian cricket and seems to draw parallels between them. Maybe they exist but they're likely to be lost on those readers not intimately familiar with both. Not understanding won't affect one's appreciation of the overall book, but it's possible that having some familiarity with either or both will enhance it. At times the plot appears to be more complicated than it needs to be but that's possibly the author's purpose since the motive behind the crime is really quite simple and the identity of the culprit foreshadowed early in the book. As for locating Dot's missing sister, Phryne shows a lot of imagination and resourcefulness in tracking her down and ultimately reuniting her with her family.
Phryne's sexual proclivities are a standard part in these mysteries and, while their inclusion often seems gratuitous and unnecessary, for the most part they are fairly innocuous. In Death Before Wicket, however, they appear to be particularly distasteful and are the only significant distraction (and not in a good way) to an otherwise terrific book.
Acknowledgment: Poisoned Pen Press provided an ARC of Death Before Wicket for this review.
Review Copyright © 2008 — Hidden Staircase Mystery Books — All Rights Reserved
Selected reviews of other mysteries by this author …
Raisins and Almonds
Poisoned Pen Press (Hardcover), September 2007
ISBN-13: 9781590581681; ISBN-10: 1590581687
Poisoned Pen Press (Hardcover), June 2008
ISBN-13: 9781590584262; ISBN-10: 1590584260
Location(s) referenced in Death Before Wicket: Melbourne, Australia
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Death Before Wicket by Kerry Greenwood — A Phryne Fisher Mystery
Publisher: Poisoned Pen Press
Publication Date: January 2008
List Price: $24.95