Review Blog

Nov 13 2013

Murder and Mendelssohn (Audio) by Kerry Greenwood

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Bolinda, 9 CDs, 11hours, 23 mins. ISBN 9781743178812. Allen and Unwin, 2013. ISBN 9781742379562. 2013.
(Age: 14+) Highly recommended. Crime, Historical fiction, Humour. The Hon. Miss Phryne Fisher's twentieth adventure brimming with daring and sleuthing from start to finish, is replicated in this fine audio version, published by Bolinda. The reading brings to life the many characters in the story, Phryne of course, with her droll comments, her household, Dot, Seth, Jane, Mr and Mrs Butler amongst others, with the stalwart ever present Jack Robinson. Stephanie Daniel puts her considerable acting abilities to good use with her wonderful voice taking on the range of characters introduced in this book. She makes them all distinct and recognisable, without resorting to parody to achieve the effect she aims for. The calmness of the narrator's voice contrasts vividly with the excitable and slightly arch voice that denotes Phryne, while her depiction of the men in her life rings true.
This story concerns the death of a quite disagreeable conductor, rehearsing a semi professional choir in Mendelssohn's Elijah. The list of suspects is long and varied, and when a mathematician arrives on the scene, ready for his illustrated lecture after the rehearsal, Phryne finds his assistant is a long lost friend. John Wilson resumes the affair which he and Phryne had during the end of the Great War, both knowing that his affections are focussed on the mathematician, Rupert Sheffield. The conductor, Tregennis died from poisoning or suffocation, and Jack Robinson enlists Phryne's help in sorting out the suspects, while she telegraphs an old acquaintance in England searching for information about the enigmatic Sheffield. And joins the choir herself to further her investigations and keep a watch on the many suspects. When the replacement conductor is also killed, tension between the choir members increases.
Entwined with this story are the turf wars between criminals wanting power over the docks in Melbourne and Williamstown as Phryne helps a young woman escape the clutches of one of the bosses, who may or may not be linked to Sheffield.
This is a wonderful story, a mix of MI6, stories from the Great War, criminal activity on the Victorian waterfront, kidnapping and murder, as well as the more personal stories of Phryne and her household, all of whom support her in her often hair raising adventures. Listening to the story recounted by Daniel is a treat and shines a light to which other recorders of audiobooks can only aspire. Highly recommended.
For more information about Bolinda audiobooks go to http://www.bolinda.com/aus/ and for a more detailed look at Kerry Greenwood's marvellous concoction of Phryne Fisher, go to http://www.phrynefisher.com/
Fran Knight

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