Shelf Life – Oct. 24
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Oct 24, 2013  |  Vote 0    0

Shelf Life – Oct. 24

Stratford Gazette

Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries

starring Essie Davis

@SPL DVD Drama Miss

If you missed this series on TVO you now have the chance to pick it up at Stratford Public Library. Based on the mystery novels by Kerry Greenwood, Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries stars Essie Davis as Phryne (pronounced FRY-nee) Fisher, a 1920’s “bright young thing” party-girl - on the surface.

The writers of the television show have given Phryne a rather tragic back story which is lightly touched upon in the pilot “Cocaine Blues” and becomes the focus of the series during the last few episodes of the first season. Set in Melbourne, Australia (like the novels), the series is both glamorous - Phryne is the epitome of flapper fashion – but the series has a slight ‘wild west’ vibe; for instance one episode has Phryne riding the Ballarat train through the Australian outback, another has her going undercover at a frontier circus - not something one can imagine Miss Marple ever considering.

Indeed, although these mysteries do not have the most complicated plots, they are not quite cozies, as from time to time they can be surprising in their goriness (the episode with live mummification comes to mind).

Plus, Phryne Fisher is no lace-knitting wallflower - she carries a pistol, is not above using her feminine wiles to get information, and has a healthy sex-drive for a gal of the 1920’s - something that shocks her very naive but adorably sweet maid-companion, Dot.

The rest of the supporting cast is equally watchable - Dot (Ashleigh Cummings) manages to crack the shell of her strict-Catholic upbringing, the cute-as-a-button Hugh (Hugo Johnstone-Burt) starts to come into his own as a Constable, and the distinguished, unflappable DI Jack Robinson (Nathan Page) may even start to enjoy Phryne’s prying by season’s end.

The word that immediately comes to mind to describe Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries is “charming”, and highly addictive. Season two is only on air now in Australia, so it will be awhile before North American audiences get a chance to glimpse it so my advice is to check out this DVD series but try not to gulp it back by watching it all the way through - savour it through the winter - if you can!

Find Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries and other titles reviewed in this column at http://spl.bibliocommons.com.

– Robyn Godfrey, librarian

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