Soignée Australian socialite detective Phryne Fisher tracks not one but two missing girls.
Phryne has been appointed Queen of the Flowers for St. Kilda’s flower parade and festival. Her four flower maidens are young woman of disparate temperament, and it takes all of Phryne’s considerable skills to keep them in line. Rose Weston, from an old but mysterious background, appears to be living rather a fast life for a young girl of good family in 1928 Melbourne. At the same time, Phryne’s adopted daughter Ruth returns from a visit to the sanatorium, where her birth mother is dying of tuberculosis, with new interest in the identity of her father. A traveling circus camping near Phryne’s beachfront home brings her together with an old friend, elephant trainer Dulcie Fanshawe, and one of her many past lovers, James Murray of Orkney. When Rose goes missing, Phryne is hired by a friend of Rose’s miserly grandfather to find her. In addition, she must hunt for Ruth, who seems to have run off. Friends and lovers past and present all have their parts to play as Phryne makes alternately pleasing and horrifying discoveries in her search for the missing young ladies.
By no means the best of Phryne’s long string of period mysteries (Death Before Wicket, 2008, etc.), but the delightfully outré heroine is always a pleasure to revisit.