Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Murder and Mendelssohn - Review

Murder and Mendelssohn by Kerry Greenwood

Description:  When a universally disliked composer is found murdered with a system full of opiates and pages of a Mendelssohn competition shoved down his throat Detective Inspector Jack Robinson calls in Phrynne Fisher to help him figure out this strange complicated world of musicians.  Happily, while at the theater Phrynne runs into old friend and former John Wilson whose companion Dr. Rupert Sheffield is taking the world by storm with his lectures on deductive reasoning.  So begins a twisting hunt for the murder with Phrynne's whole household, old friends and beautiful clothes in tow.

Genre: Mystery

My Impression:

Pros:  This is the 2nd Phrynne Fisher I've read and the 20th in the series.  I was a little worried that this would end up being clogged with backstories that I wouldn't understand but Greenwood actually incorporates new characters very well.  For example with Jane and Ruth, Phrynne's adopted children she simply mentions they're adopted.  Obviously, there's a very long story behind it but it doesn't pertain to this particular story so you don't get bogged with the details.  It was a very simple effective way to deal with a complicated character.  The mystery itself was very well done.  The suspects and motives were plenty without being over the top.  The whole atmosphere was very entertaining and unusual.  I liked Phrynne's extremely logical personality and her interactions with her varied household were fun.  I normally don't like children in mysteries but Jane, Ruth and Tinker were intelligent without being to precocious and added an element of fun to the story.

Cons: While I liked Phrynne's old friend John but his relationship with his companion with Rupert Sheffield was so similar to Sherlock Holmes and John Watson it got distracting.  I found myself being pulled out of the story to think "Wow, there's another similarity." Also, while I like Phrynne's cold and logical attitude towards sex and her inner conversations about not seducing suspects was pretty funny after awhile it just got a bit much.  There were times I wanted it to get back to the mystery.

Overall Impression:  Since I had only read the first book in the series I was afraid I'd be confused by skipping ahead to #20.  Greenwood did a good job of showing character growth without being confusing to new readers.  I feel like you could pick up any book in the series without trouble.  The setting - Australia in the 1920s - is unique and I found it very interesting.  This is a very well done mystery series with a very different lead character.  I think most mystery lovers would enjoy this book and this series.

Would I Read More of this Series/Author?: Yes

Would I Recommend this Book?:  Yes


  1. I love the setting and was really glad to see you could jump in at book 20. That speaks volumes about the authors writing. Wonderful review Katherine :)

    1. Thanks! I love the setting on this one. I"m a sucker for a 1920s setting but the Australia definitely adds another twist. I really like Greenwood's matter of fact style.

  2. Twenty books! I've found that most mystery series I read are good for jumping in at any point. Not all, of course, unfortunately. I'm learning that it's okay sometimes to jump in with a more recent book and then go back if I like a series enough and start at the beginning. I'm still a stickler for reading books in order though, so I don't think I will ever be one of those people who just picks up random books in a series and reads them when I can read them in order.

    This does sound like a good book!

    1. Glad I'm not the only one hung up on book order. It makes me a little twitchy to jump around in a series. You're right about being able to jump into most mystery but after a Daheim I read a little while ago I'm a bit skittish!