Phryne Fisher’s holiday in Sydney becomes a dangerous investigation into a bizarre collection of academics and hangers-on.
Every eye in bustling Sydney is on the harbor bridge under construction—except for those of Phryne Fisher and her maid Dot. Although she’s looking forward to cricket and the Arts Ball, Phryne has agreed to investigate the theft of papers from a university safe at the behest of two students who believe their friend, a scholarship boy in whose carrel some stolen tests have been found, has been wrongly accused. An invitation to dine with the Chancellor gives Phryne an opportunity to meet several alternative suspects. Also on her to-do list is finding Dot’s sister, who’s left her two young children to the care of the furious husband who accuses her of whoring. Cruising some dubious nightclubs, Phryne picks up both information and enemies in the form of some practitioners of black magic and a fixer for a notorious madam. She savors life among the scholars, acquires a delightful new lover and enjoys cricket matches as she searches for Dot’s sister and tries to figure out which of the seemingly innocuous objects in the safe the thief was really after.
The change of scene and a hint of Dorothy L. Sayers gives the delightfully refreshing Phryne (Blood and Circuses, 2007, etc.) one of her best cases to date.