Only Kerry Greenwood could make an "Apologia" as interesting and delightful to read as the actual stories. I do recommend readers start with there, and not skip "On Phryne Fisher" which is the author's introduction. From there, one jumps into the wonderful world of 17 wonderful short stories. There is also a very helpful Glossary at the end.
It is known that short stories are the hardest to write, yet Greenwood does it delightfully well. Still, one always has favorites.
- "Hotel Splendide," a case of a missing husband and a missing hotel room, starts off with the perfect amount of information as to Phryne's background, her style, her ability to take charge, and her enviable sangfroid.
- "The Body in the Library" pairs Phryne and DI Jack Robinson and a not-so-pious reverend.
- "Death Shall be Dead" includes DI Jack Robinson and a dog. How can one resist that? and
- "The Bells of St. Paul's" begins with a tea at the Windsor that leaves one salivating and includes a message in the bells.
One rather wishes a few of the stories were expanded into novellas. A couple of them would make wonderful full-length novels.
For readers new to Phryne, this is an excellent way to experience her and her world. A slight criticism is there is not a lot of introduction to the secondary characters, and the settings and the times at which the stories occur jump around a bit which can be confusing. However, for those who already love Phryne, there is still the overwhelming desire to be her when one grows up.
THE LADY WITH THE GUN ASKS THE QUESTIONS is a treat. Some stories were published previously, some have been reworked slightly, and four are brand new. They are piquant, thoroughly entertaining, and not overly complicated. One may read one, a few, or all of them at a sitting as reading them may have the effect of potato chips; one just isn't enough.
THE LADY WITH THE GUN ASKS THE QUESTIONS (SS-Phryne Fisher-Australia-1920s) EX
Greenwood, Kerry – Short Story Collection
Poisoned Pen Press, May 2022, 272 pp.