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I was fortunate to be given an advance review copy of this collection via Netgalley--many thanks to the publisher for the opportunity to read this!

Title: The Lady with the Gun Asks the Questions
Author:
Kerry Greenwood
Publisher: coming March 30 from Allen and Unwin. 272 pages (I read an unpaginated e-ARC)
Source: Netgalley ARC

Publisher's Blurb:
The Honourable Phryne Fisher - she of the Lulu bob, Cupid's Bow lips, diamante garters and pearl-handled pistol - is the 1920s' most elegant and irrepressible sleuth.

Miss Phryne Fisher is up to her stunning green eyes in intriguing crime in each of these entertaining, fun and compulsively readable stories. With the ever-loyal Dot, the ingenious Mr Butler and all of Phryne's friends and household, the action is as fast as Phryne's wit and logic.
  

My Review:
I have long been a fan of Kerry Greenwood's Phryne Fisher, so I was excited to get the opportunity to read this collection, though I was also a little worried--would the short stories match up to the novels? I needn't have worried. Each of these stories (and the fact that 4 are otherwise unpublished didn't matter to me--I haven't stumbled on any of her shorts before) is a little nugget. By the end, I realized I need to read these over for a lesson in the art of writing short mysteries, because Greenwood has crafted each of the 17 stories is an effective and complete mystery.

The stories are in chronological order (of Phryne's time in Melbourne; I'm not sure about when Greenwood wrote them all), though for the most part it doesn't matter. I wouldn't want to try to slot them in and around the novels--they are wholly free-standing and of necessity the list of characters is streamlined, though in a few you can see her trying out characters and settings that return in the novels.

The writing in the stories is tight, with just the right amount of scene setting (it's a little hard to be sure, because after 20 Phryne Fisher novels, I have the setting pretty firmly in mind). Phryne stays firmly in character, as do the other regulars--she certainly hasn't lost her interest in sex, though the short form prevents as much discussion of that as the novels contain. Greenwood also firmly indicates that this is the Phryne of the novels, not of the TV show--and that they aren't the same person, though she also says she loves the show, in an entertaining and edifying discussion about the origins of Phryne and her process for writing a novel. That, like the stories, is worth some study for a writer of mystery fiction.

My Recommendation:
Five stars. I was very satisfied by the stories, and the short-story format was perfect for me just now. It also allowed me to savor the book, rather than rushing through as I can't help doing with the novels. If you are at all a fan of historical fiction and/or tough female heroes, and aren't easily offended by what Greenwood refers to as a female James Bond (think about his relations to women and you'll get where I'm going), then read this! If you are already a fan, I don't have to tell you to read it.


FTC Disclosure: I received an electronic ARC of The Lady With the Gun Asks the Questions from Netgalley, and received nothing from the author or the publisher in exchange for my honest review. The opinions expressed are my own and those of no one else. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”   

 ©Rebecca M. Douglass, 2022
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