Friday, November 15, 2013

New Acquaintances

I’ve been a mystery fan practically since I could read,  especially enjoying “cozy” mysteries by Agatha Christie and Patricia Wentworth. I will always love Miss Marple, Hercule Poirot (Christie) and Miss Silver (Wentworth), but recently, I’ve been introduced to more modern (and younger) detectives who have become new favorites, most notably Jacqueline Winspear’s Maisie Dobbs and Kerry Greenwood’s Phryne Fisher. I find both heroines appealing.


The two share a few similarities: they operate during the same general time period, between the first and second world wars. Both served in World War I, Maisie as a nurse, Phryne as an ambulance driver. Both came from humble beginnings, though Phryne has had the good fortune to inherit wealth. Both women decide to become detectives.


Phryne (pronounced “fry-nee”), a resident of 1920s Melbourne, is smart, sophisticated, confident, brave, kind and generous. Despite tragedy in her past, she lives to the fullest and in the moment. Maisie lives in London in the late 1920s/early 30s. She’s much less well off, but just as clever and resourceful. The scars from her past haunt her just as much as Phryne’s do, and I imagine I’ll learn more about them as I continue through the series. Maisie studies psychology (and is referred to, in fact, as a “psychologist and investigator”) in solving her cases. 

Though I’ve read the first few Maisie Dobbs books (there are 10 so far), I’ve only met Phryne on DVD. I plan to read Greenwood’s first Phryne Fisher book (there are 20!) as soon as I can—in fact, I just requested it from my library. I’m completely charmed by the characters as brought to life in the TV series, and I imagine the books will be even better. I love what Greenwood had to say about her creation: “…Phryne is a hero, just like James Bond or the Saint, but with fewer product endorsements and a better class of lovers. I decided to try a female hero and made her as free as a male hero, to see what she would do.”  Doesn’t that sound like fun?

Have you made any new literary acquaintances lately?

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