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Death by Water

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'Who are you?' asked the doctor. 'You are not the standard cruise passenger, I can tell you that.' 'Thank you,' said Phryne in a self-possessed manner. 'You are correct. I am a lot of things, some of which do not concern you, but mostly I am Phryne Fisher.' The nice men at P&O are worried. A succession of jewellery thefts from first class passengers is hardly the best adve 'Who are you?' asked the doctor. 'You are not the standard cruise passenger, I can tell you that.' 'Thank you,' said Phryne in a self-possessed manner. 'You are correct. I am a lot of things, some of which do not concern you, but mostly I am Phryne Fisher.' The nice men at P&O are worried. A succession of jewellery thefts from first class passengers is hardly the best advertisement for their cruise liners, particularly when it is likely that it is a passenger who is doing the stealing. Phryne Fisher, with her Lulu bob, green eyes, Cupid's bow lips and Chanel travelling suits, is exactly the sort of elegant sleuth to take on a ring of jewellery thieves aboard the high seas - or at least, aboard the SS Hinemoa on a luxury cruise to New Zealand. With the Maharani - the Great Queen of Sapphires - as the bait, Phryne rises magnificently to the challenge. There are shipboard romances, champagne cocktails, erotic photographers, jealous husbands, mickey finns, blackmail and attempted murder, all before the thieves find out - as have countless love-smitten men before them - that where the glamorous and intelligent Phryne is involved, resistance is futile.


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'Who are you?' asked the doctor. 'You are not the standard cruise passenger, I can tell you that.' 'Thank you,' said Phryne in a self-possessed manner. 'You are correct. I am a lot of things, some of which do not concern you, but mostly I am Phryne Fisher.' The nice men at P&O are worried. A succession of jewellery thefts from first class passengers is hardly the best adve 'Who are you?' asked the doctor. 'You are not the standard cruise passenger, I can tell you that.' 'Thank you,' said Phryne in a self-possessed manner. 'You are correct. I am a lot of things, some of which do not concern you, but mostly I am Phryne Fisher.' The nice men at P&O are worried. A succession of jewellery thefts from first class passengers is hardly the best advertisement for their cruise liners, particularly when it is likely that it is a passenger who is doing the stealing. Phryne Fisher, with her Lulu bob, green eyes, Cupid's bow lips and Chanel travelling suits, is exactly the sort of elegant sleuth to take on a ring of jewellery thieves aboard the high seas - or at least, aboard the SS Hinemoa on a luxury cruise to New Zealand. With the Maharani - the Great Queen of Sapphires - as the bait, Phryne rises magnificently to the challenge. There are shipboard romances, champagne cocktails, erotic photographers, jealous husbands, mickey finns, blackmail and attempted murder, all before the thieves find out - as have countless love-smitten men before them - that where the glamorous and intelligent Phryne is involved, resistance is futile.

30 review for Death by Water

  1. 5 out of 5

    Nicky

    Ah, Death By Water is a satisfying one, for me. For all that I love the extended family that Phryne has made, it’s also interesting to go off and meet other characters, and visit some other environs. Death By Water takes us on a cruise and has a glimpse into Maori culture, and though I’m no expert, it seems respectful and interesting. Given the setting, the Maori village and so on is a bit like sightseeing, and the non-Maori white professor who has been practically adopted by the Maoris seems li Ah, Death By Water is a satisfying one, for me. For all that I love the extended family that Phryne has made, it’s also interesting to go off and meet other characters, and visit some other environs. Death By Water takes us on a cruise and has a glimpse into Maori culture, and though I’m no expert, it seems respectful and interesting. Given the setting, the Maori village and so on is a bit like sightseeing, and the non-Maori white professor who has been practically adopted by the Maoris seems like wish fulfillment, but never mind, for the most part it works. The cast of this one is both charming and dastardly, in the right amounts, and I enjoyed watching Phryne playing each person off against the others and working out the mystery. It’s made that bit less predictable by the fact that there are new characters — we know how Jack Robinson will react to Phryne’s interference, but another detective might raise an eyebrow (and does). We know Bert and Cec are to be relied upon, but what about on a cruise ship where Phryne can’t rely on them for muscle? Etc. It also helps that the book takes her away from Lin Chung, and though he’s referenced once or twice, he isn’t her sole interest. And the word “concubine” doesn’t occur once, also a relief (to me, anyway). I can’t put my finger exactly on what makes this so much better than, say, Death Before Wicket, but it had the right feel somehow. And it did give me a chuckle by referencing the Attenbury Emeralds! If only the Honorable Miss Fisher would one day run into one Lord Peter… Maybe they even knew each other as kids, who can say? (Well, I know it mentions Sayers and Wimsey as fiction in one of the books, but hush. Hush.) Originally posted here.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Anastasia

    Death by Water by Kerry Greenwood is the 15th Phryne Fisher Mystery novel. Phryne Fisher id hired by P&O to investigate a series of jewellery thefts that have occurred on their cruises and with her companion Dot, embarks on a luxury cruise to New Zealand to discover the culprit. An engaging and captivating mystery that I enjoyed very much. I loved the change of setting and enjoyed joining Phryne on her cruise. It doesn't sound that much has changed over the years. A perfect book for a light, sum Death by Water by Kerry Greenwood is the 15th Phryne Fisher Mystery novel. Phryne Fisher id hired by P&O to investigate a series of jewellery thefts that have occurred on their cruises and with her companion Dot, embarks on a luxury cruise to New Zealand to discover the culprit. An engaging and captivating mystery that I enjoyed very much. I loved the change of setting and enjoyed joining Phryne on her cruise. It doesn't sound that much has changed over the years. A perfect book for a light, summer holiday escape.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Siria

    This is definitely one of the weaker installments with the series. I got the sense early on that Greenwood was trying for a sort of Murder on the Orient Express solution, but what we ended up with managed to be anticlimactic and confusing rather than satisfyingly clever. There are also some racial issues here which go beyond a realistic evocation of the kind of racial attitudes which a group of upper class white people were likely to hold in the Australia and New Zealand of the 1920s. There are This is definitely one of the weaker installments with the series. I got the sense early on that Greenwood was trying for a sort of Murder on the Orient Express solution, but what we ended up with managed to be anticlimactic and confusing rather than satisfyingly clever. There are also some racial issues here which go beyond a realistic evocation of the kind of racial attitudes which a group of upper class white people were likely to hold in the Australia and New Zealand of the 1920s. There are better works in the Phryne Fisher series; this one can safely be skipped.

  4. 5 out of 5

    MargaretDH

    Ah, Phryne. You always know just how to solve a mystery while being fashionable and witty. In this outing, Phryne decides she needs a break from home, so she takes passage on a cruise ship with the remit to solve a series of jewel heists (and to enjoy herself, of course). There are lots of descriptions of late 20s luxury, the New Zealand coastline, and a plot. If you like historical mysteries and flappers pick up this series. I enjoyed this, just like a donut for my brain.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Andree

    I do enjoy a murder mystery on a cruise ship, and this one did not disappoint. It's fluffy fun. The villains are punished, the nice characters are not. Also, it's just Phrynne and Dot on the cruise, which was kind of nice, given the ever-expanding secondary cast, which I like, but this was refreshing. Probably one of my favourites in the series so far. I do enjoy a murder mystery on a cruise ship, and this one did not disappoint. It's fluffy fun. The villains are punished, the nice characters are not. Also, it's just Phrynne and Dot on the cruise, which was kind of nice, given the ever-expanding secondary cast, which I like, but this was refreshing. Probably one of my favourites in the series so far.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Rbucci

    Not her best book I’ve read, but definitely fun and entertaining

  7. 4 out of 5

    Jinghua

    I haven't read any of the Phryne Fisher series for a few years but I remembered it really fondly. I mean, it's fluff but good fluff - sweet, sassy crime fiction set in Melbourne in the 1920s, vaguely liberal-feminist and pro-unions. But fuck this book has a totally ridiculous plot, the worst resolution ever and heaps of dumb racist white people. And it's not even set in Melbourne. It's set on a trans-Atlantic cruise and the entire cast of characters is (a) helpful servile people of colour (b) wh I haven't read any of the Phryne Fisher series for a few years but I remembered it really fondly. I mean, it's fluff but good fluff - sweet, sassy crime fiction set in Melbourne in the 1920s, vaguely liberal-feminist and pro-unions. But fuck this book has a totally ridiculous plot, the worst resolution ever and heaps of dumb racist white people. And it's not even set in Melbourne. It's set on a trans-Atlantic cruise and the entire cast of characters is (a) helpful servile people of colour (b) white passengers in first-class and there's all this stuff where the good white people are distinguished from the racist white people by the virtue of the fact that they can appreciate other cultures, ie, they like curry. I'm pretty sure it's not a spoiler to say that they have a masquerade ball where ALL THE GOOD WHITE PEOPLE DRESS UP IN ETHNIC COSTUMES INCLUDING BLACKFACE. Um, I know it's 1928 or whatever so I guess it's realistic but seriously, this is framed in the context of the novel as part of how not racist they are. Oh dear.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Kate

    Phryne on board a glamorous cruise ship, jewel thefts, food, fashion, Maori. Completely awesome. I wish they'd made a tv series episode of this one, traditional country house mystery on the sea! Phryne on board a glamorous cruise ship, jewel thefts, food, fashion, Maori. Completely awesome. I wish they'd made a tv series episode of this one, traditional country house mystery on the sea!

  9. 4 out of 5

    Dillwynia Peter

    I have enjoyed the Phryne Fisher series over the years – they are fun; Phryne is a wonderful strong female character who enjoys life to the full. I have always enjoyed that she is a lusty woman who knows and gets her man. The stories are always well researched and talk of a period in Melbourne’s history that is so easily forgotten now; it was after all, the beginning of the European migrant story to Australia that would culminate at its height after WW2. However, we all have bad days, and this bo I have enjoyed the Phryne Fisher series over the years – they are fun; Phryne is a wonderful strong female character who enjoys life to the full. I have always enjoyed that she is a lusty woman who knows and gets her man. The stories are always well researched and talk of a period in Melbourne’s history that is so easily forgotten now; it was after all, the beginning of the European migrant story to Australia that would culminate at its height after WW2. However, we all have bad days, and this book is one of those. Greenwood openly admits in a postscript that she had trouble researching for this book, and sadly it shows. It is very obvious she has never been on a liner, with all its idiosyncrasies: unfortunately I have & I found chunks of this book annoying. There were so many inaccuracies that I won’t be petty & list them. If you have been on an older liner built before the late 1990s, you too will see the silliness and be frustrated. Sadly, being a locked room mystery, even the resolution is silly and hinges on something that doesn’t occur on a ship. Hell! Even that bloody shop was unrealistic with its supplies. Having said this, what I did like was the hunting for jewel thieves on the ship – it makes sense to have a private investigator do this rather than PC Plod on international waters. There are also some great characters with a little spice added in. Two major shipping disasters are prevalent throughout: the sinking of the Titanic & Lusitania. It is easy to forget, but these were just as recent during the time period as 9/11 is for us. The most amazing addition to this novel are the letters at the end of each chapter. By Chapter 3 I had worked out their significance: they were poignant and chilling and gave humanity to an important time in modern shipping history.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Bea

    I missed the regular cast as this was just Phryne and Dot. The ship setting was interesting, the attitude towards the Maori was a mix of bigoted and decent, the various mysteries decent. The solutions were...unlikely at best yet a mix of predictable and wacky.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Cybercrone

    Still enjoying this series a lot.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Claire

    Another highly enjoyable Phryne Fisher mystery, I do love spending time with this original woman.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Chris Davis

    If you are looking for a murder mystery, move along. However, if you're looking for a book filled with nautical trivia and lectures on the Maori culture imparted while rich people sit around a table and eat really well described food, then this is the book for you. This was by far the worst of the Phryne Fisher books, and that takes the random and vague Green Mill Mystery and rambling Raisins and Almonds into consideration. The death in the title does not occur until approximately page 197. (Note: If you are looking for a murder mystery, move along. However, if you're looking for a book filled with nautical trivia and lectures on the Maori culture imparted while rich people sit around a table and eat really well described food, then this is the book for you. This was by far the worst of the Phryne Fisher books, and that takes the random and vague Green Mill Mystery and rambling Raisins and Almonds into consideration. The death in the title does not occur until approximately page 197. (Note: My version of the book was 253 pages long.) Up until then, Phryne is supposedly investigating stolen jewelry on a ship. Mostly, however, we spend those 197 pages reading about the passengers sitting in the dining room and discussing the aforementioned trivia and cultural lessons. It does not help that neither mystery, neither the murder or the jewel theft, are wrapped up with any sort of satisfactory ending. Instead, they feel like they were afterthoughts and not well-thought out either.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Kathryn

    Normally I like to read books of series in sequence and this is book no. 15 in the Phryne Fisher series and I’m only up to no. 11. But when I found out there was a Phryne Fisher book set on a cruise ship going to New Zealand, just as I was doing in the second half of January, I simply had to take it along for my shipboard reading material!! Reading it under similar circumstances to its setting certainly gave it more relevance to me, and despite the fact that Phryne was travelling in the 1920’s, i Normally I like to read books of series in sequence and this is book no. 15 in the Phryne Fisher series and I’m only up to no. 11. But when I found out there was a Phryne Fisher book set on a cruise ship going to New Zealand, just as I was doing in the second half of January, I simply had to take it along for my shipboard reading material!! Reading it under similar circumstances to its setting certainly gave it more relevance to me, and despite the fact that Phryne was travelling in the 1920’s, in a suite, and I was only in a regular stateroom in 2015, there were many similarities onboard which had me chuckling regularly and reading bits aloud to my travelling companion (who also went on to read the book after I finished it!). A fun read, as always, from Kerry Greenwood - 3.5 stars.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Anna

    I have a love/hate (or: like/dislike, as I'm not sure I'd use words as strong as love and hate) relationship with how Kerry Greenwood writes POC and how she handles issues related to race. Sometimes she does a good job, sometimes she doesn't. Sadly, "Death by Water" made me cringe more than just once. No, there's no need to make so much effort to convince everyone that the Maori are civilized but simply a bit different than us. No, you don't wear race/nationality as a costume, not even in a hist I have a love/hate (or: like/dislike, as I'm not sure I'd use words as strong as love and hate) relationship with how Kerry Greenwood writes POC and how she handles issues related to race. Sometimes she does a good job, sometimes she doesn't. Sadly, "Death by Water" made me cringe more than just once. No, there's no need to make so much effort to convince everyone that the Maori are civilized but simply a bit different than us. No, you don't wear race/nationality as a costume, not even in a historical novel when it's obviously not necessary. Other than that, it was yet another light and fun book. Not the best, not the worst in the series. I loved the female music band and the "princess makeover" but missed Lin Chung.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Susan

    The ever-delightful Australian detective Phryne Fisher is hired to investigate robberies on a cruise line. She embarks on the ship--which travels from Australia to New Zealand--and meets a strange assortment of returning travelers, who were present for the earlier robberies. Phryne sports a huge, phony sapphire and waits to see who will try to steal it. But when her companion Dot is roughed up and someone dares lay unauthorized hands on Phryne herself, the culprit had best beware. This series is The ever-delightful Australian detective Phryne Fisher is hired to investigate robberies on a cruise line. She embarks on the ship--which travels from Australia to New Zealand--and meets a strange assortment of returning travelers, who were present for the earlier robberies. Phryne sports a huge, phony sapphire and waits to see who will try to steal it. But when her companion Dot is roughed up and someone dares lay unauthorized hands on Phryne herself, the culprit had best beware. This series is set between World Wars I and II.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Emily

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. The audiobook pronunciation of the New Zealand accent and the Māori language is pretty bad. Otherwise, the story is quite good, not my favourite Phryne Fisher story as it is not as fast moving as others. As other reviews have mentioned, the death only happens near the end which is where it starts moving a bit more and feeling more like the rest of the series.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Joann

    One of the better Phryne books.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Orinoco Womble (tidy bag and all)

    Phryne Fisher combines work with pleasure as she and Dot take to the high seas to find out who is stealing the jewels from around the first-class passengers' necks on the dance floor. Of course she is given the Imperial suite, and the cruise ship adventure is like a house-party mystery on the water. We have the meal at the captain's table, the masquerade dance, the disappearing corpse--or is it? What's upsetting the ship's doctor? And why does one passenger eat nothing but omelettes at every mea Phryne Fisher combines work with pleasure as she and Dot take to the high seas to find out who is stealing the jewels from around the first-class passengers' necks on the dance floor. Of course she is given the Imperial suite, and the cruise ship adventure is like a house-party mystery on the water. We have the meal at the captain's table, the masquerade dance, the disappearing corpse--or is it? What's upsetting the ship's doctor? And why does one passenger eat nothing but omelettes at every meal? Phryne is definitely in Modesty Blaise mode here, promising to make all and sundry "very sorry" for their indiscretions, which include drugging Dot and bonking Phryne herself over the head. Curiously, she tended not to pay attention when other people were talking, which is an odd way to gather information. Fortunately the plot didn't turn on any esoteric facts, which would have escaped her entirely. I enjoyed the Dr Applegate character, who made me think of Dorothy L. Sayers for some reason. Perhaps that was helped by the fact that she mentions the Attenbury emeralds and the Megatherium Trust crash, both of which figured large in Sayers' books. There is also a Miss Lemmon at Phryne's table in the first class mess. The denouements of the double mystery were simply incredible, as is so common in the Fisher mysteries, but it's only entertainment, after all. Suspend belief and you'll be OK. Again, I found the letters tacked onto the end of each chapter distracting and annoying, as well as adding precisely nothing to the story. Just in passing, if you actually have a nodding acquaintance with spoken Greek you know that "Phryne" is not pronounced to rhyme with Briny. Greek shares the five vowel sounds found in Italian and Spanish, so it would be "Freenay". But that's just by the way. I'm sure that by the time the British/Australian phonetic system of the early 20th century got through with it, it was indeed Fry-knee. But then you should hear how many elderly British people pronounce the name Miguel.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Lizpixie

    Number 15 in the Hon Phryne Fisher series is another wonderful read. I very much enjoy reading about Phryne and her adventures, in this time period, to be a woman meant being of marriageable and breeding fitness. Woman were seen and not heard, and it's brilliant to read about a woman that is damn hard to ignore. Phryne and her companion Dot have escaped her noisy and full household, and are on a P&O cruise to New Zealand, on the hunt for a jewel thief. In between shipboard romances, dancing, co Number 15 in the Hon Phryne Fisher series is another wonderful read. I very much enjoy reading about Phryne and her adventures, in this time period, to be a woman meant being of marriageable and breeding fitness. Woman were seen and not heard, and it's brilliant to read about a woman that is damn hard to ignore. Phryne and her companion Dot have escaped her noisy and full household, and are on a P&O cruise to New Zealand, on the hunt for a jewel thief. In between shipboard romances, dancing, cocktails, fjords & glaciers, there's an attempted murder, blackmail and continued attempts to steal the large sapphire necklace from around Phryne's neck.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Tony Hisgett

    Although I enjoyed the story, I thought the collection of First Class passengers were either irritating or a bit boring and as most of the story revolves around these characters, it wasn’t my favourite Miss Fisher book. I also began to get a little annoyed with the number of times Phryne kept saying somebody was going to be very sorry for their actions and she was going to make sure they came to a bad end. However, it was also good to see Phryne getting some of her feminist sexual ‘mojo’ back aft Although I enjoyed the story, I thought the collection of First Class passengers were either irritating or a bit boring and as most of the story revolves around these characters, it wasn’t my favourite Miss Fisher book. I also began to get a little annoyed with the number of times Phryne kept saying somebody was going to be very sorry for their actions and she was going to make sure they came to a bad end. However, it was also good to see Phryne getting some of her feminist sexual ‘mojo’ back after a bit too much of being Lin’s ‘concubine’.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Linda

    Phryne Fisher is true to form in this 15th entry in the series. She's been hired to find out who is stealing jewels from first class passengers on the SS Hinemoa. The cruise to New Zealand is fascinating good fun, the characters are charming, and the plot reasonably satisfying. Originally read 12/5/09, Updated 11/27/13 Forgot I'd read this until well into the story. It was a fun, quick reread. Phryne Fisher is true to form in this 15th entry in the series. She's been hired to find out who is stealing jewels from first class passengers on the SS Hinemoa. The cruise to New Zealand is fascinating good fun, the characters are charming, and the plot reasonably satisfying. Originally read 12/5/09, Updated 11/27/13 Forgot I'd read this until well into the story. It was a fun, quick reread.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Karen ⊰✿

    I loved the setting for this one - a cruise ship In the late 1920s with all the splendour and decadence you would imagine. The actual mystery was a little convoluted and I miss some of the strong side characters (Bert,Cess, Jack, Lin) who didn't make an appearance, but it's still an entertaining 3 star read I loved the setting for this one - a cruise ship In the late 1920s with all the splendour and decadence you would imagine. The actual mystery was a little convoluted and I miss some of the strong side characters (Bert,Cess, Jack, Lin) who didn't make an appearance, but it's still an entertaining 3 star read

  24. 4 out of 5

    Harriet

    This Miss Fisher is the first I've read after enjoying the first video series (I'm still trying to get to see the second). I really enjoyed it and I think it stands a good chance of replacing Agatha Raisens as delightful fodder to clear my palate between heavier reading. This Miss Fisher is the first I've read after enjoying the first video series (I'm still trying to get to see the second). I really enjoyed it and I think it stands a good chance of replacing Agatha Raisens as delightful fodder to clear my palate between heavier reading.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Stacie Haden

    This continues to be a great cozy mystery series. Once I've finished them all, I may dust off my TV and watch the show. This continues to be a great cozy mystery series. Once I've finished them all, I may dust off my TV and watch the show.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Marlene

    Originally published at Reading Reality In between yesterday’s big and marvelous epic fantasy (Spinning Silver) and tomorrow’s big series-opening epic fantasy (The Magic of Recluce) I found myself looking for something less weighty that I knew from the off would be quick to get immersed in. Spinning Silver was wonderful but left me with an epic book hangover. So naturally I turned to something, or rather someone, who always manages to sweep me back into her world at the drop of a hat, the lighting Originally published at Reading Reality In between yesterday’s big and marvelous epic fantasy (Spinning Silver) and tomorrow’s big series-opening epic fantasy (The Magic of Recluce) I found myself looking for something less weighty that I knew from the off would be quick to get immersed in. Spinning Silver was wonderful but left me with an epic book hangover. So naturally I turned to something, or rather someone, who always manages to sweep me back into her world at the drop of a hat, the lighting of a gasper, or the discovery of yet another dead body. Of course, I’m speaking of Miss Phryne Fisher. The books, while in some ways markedly different than the TV series, always serve up a delicious repaste of Phryne’s signature style, sizzling wit and nose for both finding and solving trouble. Death by Water was certainly no exception. This was an interesting story for multiple reasons. This is one of the few cases where the book consists almost entirely of the case. It is also a story where Phryne is operating far away from her usual base of operations, and without most of her cast of regulars. And the cruise ship itinerary as described in the book is fascinating. She boards the P&O cruise ship SS Hinemoa for a luxury cruise to New Zealand with only the redoubtable Dot at her side. Phryne has chosen to accept this case from the cruise line to discover who is stealing expensive jewels from its first-class passengers so that she can escape a period of more than the usual chaos at her house in St. Kilda. The thefts have been cunning. The jewel thief or thieves have managed to make some of their heists in the middles of crowded dancefloors with no one being the wiser. It’s giving the cruise line a black eye in the publicity department, not to mention costing them a pretty penny in reparations. And it has to stop. So Phryne boards the ship with a stunner of a sapphire and a tragic story of a curse to go with it. The games begin almost immediately, as the thieves make attempts on her stateroom and both Phryne’s and Dot’s possessions and eventually persons. That makes it personal. But just as Phryne begins to put all the pieces together, murder enters the scene. Are the crimes connected, or are there two crime sprees aboard this one ship? With the help of the ship’s cat Scragger, Phryne is able to reveal all. Or almost all. Or all that needs to be revealed. Escape Rating B+: I went looking for fun, and I found it. And just like Phryne drinking a restorative brandy, I feel ready to tackle whatever comes next. This is one of the stories that was not filmed, and I understand why. At the same time, I’m sorry it wasn’t – the sets and the costumes would have been glorious! The case here turns out to be unusually straightforward. The ship is a closed community, and there aren’t a lot of options for misdirection. Phryne, as usual, solves the problem with intelligence rather than forensics. She studies the people involved, looks at the possible motives and opportunities, and figures out who is acting out of character, even if she can’t always tell why. But Phryne is alone, except for Dot of course, on this trip. This wasn’t a case where the usual gang would have been all that helpful, and they weren’t missed as they have been in other stories. Cec’s niece Lizbeth, Navigation Officer Green and others do end up filling the places of Phryne’s assistants, and for once it works well. It helps that Phryne’s fellow first-class passengers are a colorful lot – to say the least! The descriptions, both of shipboard life on a first class cruise and of cruise tourism in New Zealand in the 1920s are marvelous. The reader feels as if they are there on the ship, with all its gossip, pampering, troublemaking and ennui. If it weren’t for the frequent attempts on Phryne’s and Dot’s lives, it would seem like quite a restful trip! And if you enjoy Phryne’s singular voice, it’s a lovely journey.

  27. 5 out of 5

    James Perkins

    This is the fifteenth novel about 1920s Melbourne sleuth Phryne Fisher and the first one I’ve read. I’d seen a couple of episodes of the TV show based on the books and thought it might be worth checking out the source material. In this story, she heads off to New Zealand on a cruise. I had high expectations for this book because the show is a lot of fun. Unfortunately, this particular tale is odd in ways that grate on rather than enthuse the reader. Firstly, the language is very simple. That’s n This is the fifteenth novel about 1920s Melbourne sleuth Phryne Fisher and the first one I’ve read. I’d seen a couple of episodes of the TV show based on the books and thought it might be worth checking out the source material. In this story, she heads off to New Zealand on a cruise. I had high expectations for this book because the show is a lot of fun. Unfortunately, this particular tale is odd in ways that grate on rather than enthuse the reader. Firstly, the language is very simple. That’s not a problem per se, but it left me wondering whether this series is aimed at adults or teenagers. Surely it should be clear from the text? Secondly, it’s obviously aimed at a female readership, since the characters talk a lot about sewing, there’s a lot of attention on clothing, and plenty of allusion to and depiction of female sexuality. Nothing wrong with this, either – maybe it's a reasonably accurate depiction of women of the period. But the action sequences are lacking dynamism and the male characters are either extremely polite or misogynistic and rude – they are stereotyped without nuance or complexity to their personalities. Perhaps there were too many characters to juggle and some shortcuts were needed to keep the book to a reasonable length? Thirdly, there is an omniscient narrator, so characters often reveal their thoughts mid-scene for comedic effect, even though the narrative is not being told from their point of view. This sometimes makes it confusing rather than funny as the story is supposed to be from Miss Fisher’s perspective. Fourthly, the anachronisms. For example, the characters were worried about the bad health effects of smoking. Although scientists first found a link between smoking and cancer in the 1920s, it would not have been well known. Smoking was seen as a sign of female independence in the roaring twenties. And the whole cast showed a remarkably modern, tolerant approach toward the New Zealand Maoris, whereas the English-speaking world at that time would have been far more likely to display the condescending attitudes of the British Empire to native peoples, even if they thought they were being kind. Fifthly, there were letters at the end of each chapter that didn’t have anything to do with the story. An online review said these missives were supposed to be giving a human voice to people who had been involved in shipping disasters, but this was too obscure for the casual reader with little knowledge of maritime history, and too far from the story, since there is no shipping disaster in this book – just thefts and a murder. The best I can say for this book was that the solution to the crimes was clever, and dedicated readers of this series might feel it’s reminiscent of Agatha Christie. Although Miss Fisher comes across as a good-natured period snob, like many of Christie’s characters, the class and cultural satire of Christie’s work doesn’t suit the Australian setting, and it’s better to settle for her smart flapper image instead.

  28. 5 out of 5

    A.M.

    P&O has invited Miss Fisher to cruise on the SS Hinemoa to New Zealand and hopefully solve their current jewel theft issue. They can’t keep paying compensation for items stolen from patrons. They give her a sapphire necklace to flamboyantly wear, just to entice the thief. Dot comes along too, of course. She can investigate the servants and lower class passengers, including the musicians; a dance band of ladies mostly Maori. But first, the only cat thief in their room is a battered ship’s cat, call P&O has invited Miss Fisher to cruise on the SS Hinemoa to New Zealand and hopefully solve their current jewel theft issue. They can’t keep paying compensation for items stolen from patrons. They give her a sapphire necklace to flamboyantly wear, just to entice the thief. Dot comes along too, of course. She can investigate the servants and lower class passengers, including the musicians; a dance band of ladies mostly Maori. But first, the only cat thief in their room is a battered ship’s cat, called Scragger, proud of his latest kill. There’s a lot of Maori stuff here, naturally, and it was very interesting. [There’s always a race/theme of each book.] The ship puts in at Milford Sound and a few other locations on the tourist trail. All the suspects are assigned to the same table for meals so that makes it easier for the detective, and they don’t know she’s an investigator. But the longer the jewel goes un-snatched, the more desperate and dangerous the thief gets. Until they drug Dot, and try to drown Phryne in the pool. (view spoiler)[Now her reaction here where someone threatens Dot is more what I expected to read last book when her daughter was kidnapped. Although it doesn’t show when she eventually catches them… *frowns* (hide spoiler)] The titular death occurs very late in the novel, and the epistolary quotes are confusing until the common link is revealed. There are effusive ship navigators, excitable young men, shipboard romances, nervous ship doctors, wife beaters, spying valets, emeritus lady professors, a Kipling quoting old Colonial who insists on eating his own fiery curries, an ‘arty’ photographer, straying wives, jealous husbands, and good old sorts from huge cattle-stations. The usual cast of real ‘characters’ along with endless meals, swims and naps. I suppose she is on vacation. The narrator seemed to have fun doing a NZ accent. Very entertaining but I’m still not sure how Phryne solved the mystery. 3 stars

  29. 5 out of 5

    Jess Hale

    This book felt very classic-whodunit to me, and that was a big plus. The enclosed nature of the setting - a cast of characters on a cruise ship - meant that it wasn't a sprawling investigation and I quite enjoyed the change. We also cut down from the usual large number of supporting characters (Phryne's family etc.) to just Dot, and while I missed them again I think the change was refreshing. The niggles I had were pretty minor: First, New Zealand! Hooray! As with all Kiwis I have an exorbitantly This book felt very classic-whodunit to me, and that was a big plus. The enclosed nature of the setting - a cast of characters on a cruise ship - meant that it wasn't a sprawling investigation and I quite enjoyed the change. We also cut down from the usual large number of supporting characters (Phryne's family etc.) to just Dot, and while I missed them again I think the change was refreshing. The niggles I had were pretty minor: First, New Zealand! Hooray! As with all Kiwis I have an exorbitantly over-the-top reaction to seeing our country depicted in media. I wish that we'd had more - maybe Phryne spending time in Auckland or Wellington, or just seeing more of the countryside. I liked that Maori characters played several roles (although enough with the large lumbering native man thing!) but I felt like Kerry Greenwood was phoning it in a bit: there were mis-spellings of words like "puaua" for "paua" and "tiparu" which as far as I can tell isn't a word at ALL. (Possibly meant to be "tipuna"? IDEK.) In the references section Greenwood said there weren't a lot of references about what NZ was like in 1928 which....doesn't sound right to me. Oh well. Second, I think the plot could have been tighter. I spent a long time waiting for the murder. (The main investigation is theft, but with the title "Death on Water" I expected someone to die sooner or later!) There were times when Phryne reached conclusions that weren't explained, there was a lot of focus on the musicians which I think could have been cut out for a tighter story, and I would have liked (as with several other novels in the series) a more satisfying denouement with the antagonists! That being said, I think we got a fairly good idea of lots of characters' personalities which can be hard to do, and I enjoyed Phryne and Dot having a wee holiday.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Christina

    Popsugar 2018 Reading Challenge: A book set at sea Sigh. I hate giving 2 stars to a book in a series that's the basis for one of my favorite mystery shows, a show that features gorgeous costumes, charming Australians, fun mysteries and a fictional relationship I am irrationally invested in. But this book was not good. The best thing I can say about it is that it fulfilled an item on the reading challenge that had been difficult to find. The worst thing about it, and I think this is pretty damning, Popsugar 2018 Reading Challenge: A book set at sea Sigh. I hate giving 2 stars to a book in a series that's the basis for one of my favorite mystery shows, a show that features gorgeous costumes, charming Australians, fun mysteries and a fictional relationship I am irrationally invested in. But this book was not good. The best thing I can say about it is that it fulfilled an item on the reading challenge that had been difficult to find. The worst thing about it, and I think this is pretty damning, is that it's freaking boring. Clearly the author did a ton of research when she was writing this book, into ships, Maori culture and shipwrecks, among other things. I know, because I'm pretty sure every single scrap of information she picked up made it into the book. A solid third of this book, I'm convinced, was people talking about historical events and cultural tidbits that had absolutely no bearing on the plot. Another third was Phryne swimming and description of costumes, both the wearing and making of. The solution, when it arrived, came more or less out of nowhere and wasn't all that convincing. Each chapter ended with a letter from one person to another on setting out on a sea voyage - none of these people, as far as I could tell, was in the book. The author does issue an apology at the end, for any inaccuracies there may have been in her depiction of Maori culture in the 1920s. The apology may have been warranted, I don't know - Maori culture in the 1920s is an area in which I'm completely ignorant. But whether instead of or in addition to the original apology, she should have been apologizing for crimes against the mystery novel.

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