Flying Too High by Kerry Greenwood is a Phryne Fisher Mystery. For the uninitiated, Miss Fisher, or Phryne (which rhymes with brine-y), is an impossibly wonderful heroine who works as a private detective, solving murders and mysteries, taking lovers, flying planes and glamorously tooling around 1920’s Melbourne in her sports car.
She even has her own television show, Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries, which seems to be on the ABC every single time I turn the tv on. I’ve never watched the show, but my mother does, and she loves it. (My mother also loves Murder She Wrote, Agatha Christie’s Marple, Agatha Christie’s Poirot, etc – I’m sure you recognise the genre. According to Mum, Miss Fisher blows them all out of the water).
Flying Too High was the second in the series of books featuring this character, but the impression I got from reading this story is that I could pick up any of the twenty or so books Phryne features in and jump straight in to the middle of the action.
There is plenty of action too. Phryne jumps in and out of bed with whoever she fancies, takes a wing walk on a Tiger Moth, solves a murder, rescues a kidnapped child, arranges prostitutes for men on death row and more. There is incest, rape and violence, which is almost glossed over. It all sounds quite sordid when I tell the story, but I didn’t even realise while I was reading this how awful some of the themes were. I just went along for the ride and found the story to be very enjoyable. Phryne is enormously charismatic and the supporting characters did their thing entertainingly too.
I live in Melbourne, so absolutely loved the historical references to places I know. At the start of the book, Phryne is living at the Windsor Hotel, which everyone in Melbourne knows was the best hotel in its time. (Mum likes to stay there when she gets the chance, but Dad says the Hotel is run down. Regardless of the state of the bedrooms these days though, High Tea at the Windsor is legendary. Trust me, I’ve been twice).
Phryne even eats the way I would if I were a character in a book. The food descriptions are sensational. Picnics, intimate dinners for two, hearty breakfasts… I admit it, I’m jealous. If I were a book character, she is who I want to be.
Flying Too High is quite a slim book and I read it very quickly, but felt satisfied when I finished. I will read more of this author’s Phryne Fisher stories, for the familiarity of the location, the enjoyment of the heroine and for the pleasure of feeling as if I had been on a bit of an adventure in Melbourne with Miss Fisher.