Murder and Mendelssohn
Review: Phryne Fisher is drawn into two mysteries, one involving the murder of a conductor and the other involving a brilliant mathematician, who is currently lecturing in Melbourne and has ties to British intelligence, in Murder and Mendelssohn, the 20th mystery in this series by Kerry Greenwood.
The dead man is Hedley Tregennis, a professional conductor working with professional soloists but amateur musicians. "Bit of a reputation for being loud, insulting and impatient," detective Jack Robinson tells Phyrne. "That applies to most conductors," she replies, though admits most conductors aren't found murdered after a rehearsal. And while most of the cast have alibis, some don't — Phyrne dutifully interviews each about their whereabouts, but she's most interested in the crime scene: Tregennis apparently was drinking a sweet dessert wine — the absolute wrong choice — with what would turn out to be his final meal of fresh oysters, a slice of smoke salmon, a piece of silton, and water biscuits. The wine would have covered up the taste of the poison found in his system, but he was also apparently strangled. One killer &hellip or two?
Separately, Rupert Sheffield is touring Australia and giving lectures on higher level mathematics. An intelligence officer during the war, he is accompanied by Dr. John Wilson, who served with Phryne on the battlefields of France. Indeed, she saved his life at one point. But why is Sheffield really in Melbourne? And why does it seem as if someone is determined to kill him?
Murder and Mendelssohn gets right to the murder investigation of Tregennis in the opening chapter and Phryne has it apparently solved well before the mid-point of the book. But the path there is really quite tedious in places, and the fact that a solution is at hand so early suggests there is more to this story. The subplot involving the attempts on Sheffield's life is far more interesting … and also seems far more interesting to Phyrne as well. To be sure, she has a personal interest in it; she's quite fond of John Wilson and doesn't want to see him drawn into whatever dangerous game Sheffield is apparently playing. But the sexual relationship between Phryne and Wilson strains credulity and never comes across as being credible. Though Phyrne expresses affection towards Wilson, she seems to be more proud of the fact that she's the only woman this gay man has ever "known". The scenes between them, and there are many, too many, make for at best awkward reading.
This is definitely not one of the better entries in this generally entertaining series. Too much time is spent off topic, as it were, and Phyrne's extended family and household, who help balance her sometimes over-the-top personality, play minimal parts in this story.
Acknowledgment: Poisoned Pen Press provided an eARC of Murder and Mendelssohn for this review.
Review Copyright © 2014 — Hidden Staircase Mystery Books — All Rights Reserved
Selected reviews of other mysteries by this author …
Poisoned Pen Press (Hardcover), January 2013
ISBN-13: 9781464201233; ISBN-10: 1464201234
Location(s) referenced in Murder and Mendelssohn: Melbourne, Australia
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Murder and Mendelssohn by Kerry Greenwood — A Phryne Fisher Mystery
Publisher: Poisoned Pen Press
Publication Date: May 2014
List Price: $24.95
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Page Author: Lance Wright
Site Publisher: Mysterious Reviews
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