I like this series a lot anyway, but how can you resist a book whose opening line is "The elephant was the last
straw," especially when you know it's set far from their natural home. The scenes immediately after are even more
The Honorable Phryne Fisher, a rich and beautiful young private investigator, is simultaneously a female version
of stylish heroes like "The Saint" and very much her own woman. A sensualist to the core, reveling in beautiful
young men and dalliance, good food and drink and clothes, colors, scents, smells, touches and every other stimulus
there is, she lives as much in the present as any person can, but will spend much of this story dealing with
unexpected pieces of the past, including her own.
Phryne has been selected Queen of the Flowers for St Kilda's first flower parade. This means luncheons with her
young flower maidens, meetings with administrators, dress fittings, and a thousand and one other arrangements.
However, the Flower Parade is also drawing other sorts of things, like a carnival with elephants, and, well,
inevitably... crime. When one of the flower maidens goes missing, Phryne is hired to find her. Since Phryne is a
realist, her search soon stretches beyond the girl's family and friends into local brothels and organized crime. One
of the nice things about Kerry Greenwood's writing is that cliché phrases like "white slavery" are traded for
showing you the reality behind them. While Phryne is still uncovering things she'd rather not know about the missing
Rosie and those around her, her own adopted daughter goes missing. What had been a commitment becomes a crusade.
Typically for this series, there isn't a wasted word in this thin volume, resulting in a fast read that's still
simply packed with color, action, and life. The vivid historical setting and characters draw you deeply into their
world as you follow a storyline nicely embellished with subplots and secondary puzzles. Surprises keep appearing to
the very end. Recommended reading, especially for those who think historical mystery means boring pseudo-history
lesson rather than exciting story and fun read.