The Phryne Fisher series are traditional, rather than cozy, because there is both blood AND sex on the page, but the most incredible thing is how character-driven these books are.
Most mysteries are interesting for the plots. You want to know who did The Crime and why. That’s why I find so few mysteries rereadable. Once I know the answer, what do I care about discovering it again? (I struggle with this in my books, not going to lie.)
But Phryne is different.
I first discovered Miss Fisher through the TV show (it’s on Netflix- Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries) and I loved it. After I’d watched the first two seasons, I realized that during the credits there was a little blip that said “Based on the books.” Since reading is basically all I do with myself, I immediately checked out the first five from the library.
And I thought I loved the show. I mean, independent, wealthy, smart, and snarky? How could it get better?
Well, my biggest problem with the show was always her relationship with Jack. Because Jack is a homebody, monogamous, boring type, and the second Phryne and he-inevitably-hook up, she’s going to have to conform to his preferences. She already has, chasing after him because he’s grumpy she slept with someone else. And I like her independence. (Side note: this is a problem I have with a lot of shows I used to love. Why does the female lead always have to change to fit what the male lead thinks is right? I’m giving particularly hard side-eye to you, Bones.)
But in the books, Jack is boring and married. He has no interest in Phryne beyond how much easier, or harder, she’s making his job at any given moment. Phryne’s main squeeze is actually–too good to share. You’ll have to read it yourself.
In the books, Phryne describes herself as having the “morals of a cat.” But she still manages to collect a family of caring, beautiful people around herself.
The mysteries are fascinating, but they’re not what keep me coming back again and again to these books. The setting and characters are so rich (Australia in the 1920s, did I mention that), and I love watching how they evolve over time and finding new threads to their personality, that I’ve read each of them 3+ times and have yet to get sick of it.
So if you like mysteries, gorgeous 1920s settings and clothing, strong women protagonists who are in charge of themselves and their sexuality, I strongly suggest you check these books out.