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Raisins and Almonds
Phryne Fisher series #9

by Kerry Greenwood

      With her lover Lin Chung away on business, Phryne Fisher is enjoying the company of Simon Abrahams, a highly decorative young Jewish man with wealthy, protective parents. But when Simon's father asks to meet Phryne, it's not to call her to account about his son. He wishes to hire her to investigate on behalf of one of his tenants, an independent young Christian woman under arrest for the murder of a young Jewish student in her bookshop. Benjamin Abrahams is concerned for his young tenant, of course, but he is even more concerned that this situation could cause bad feeling between Christians and Jews, perhaps leading to the sort of persecution and attacks the Jewish community traveled to Australia to escape.

This is one of the quieter books in this series in terms of rollicking action, instead focusing on rich characterizations and vividly depicted scenes. Much of this involves Jewish life in 1920ís Australia - from the comfortable wealth of Simon's family to poverty made comfortable through the caring turbulence of Mrs. Grossman's household - with stops along the way through Zionism, alchemy, and the mysticism of Kabala. It's all a new world to Phryne, and as we learn alongside her, I was once again amazed at how much Kerry Greenwood manages to pack into these slim volumes, without the slightest feel of it all being too much. Because of course the depiction of Jewish life and criminal investigation are only part of what's going on here, with the story ranging from the stray puppy Phryne's adopted daughters have picked up through the multiple layers of life in the crowded Victoria Market where Ms. Lee's bookstore resides. While Phryne's varied case of helpers include poor Jewish students, "red raggers" workmen Bert and Cec, and the enthralled Detective Inspector John "call me Jack" Robinson.

As with this whole series, just a great, fun read, overflowing with vivid life. Highly recommended.

The Book

Poisoned Pen Press
Sept 2007
Hardcover (reviewed from ARC)
Historical Mystery [1920s Australia]
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The Reviewer

Kim Malo
Reviewed 2008
© 2008