Publisher: Poisoned Pen Press

Cocaine Blues by Kerry Greenwood

Posted May 24, 2014 by Michael @ Knowledge Lost in Crime / 2 Comments

Cocaine Blues by Kerry GreenwoodTitle: Cocaine Blues (Goodreads)
Author: Kerry Greenwood
Series: Phryne Fisher Mystery #1
Narrator: Stephanie Daniel
Published: Poisoned Pen Press, 1989
Pages: 175
Genres: Crime
My Copy: Audiobook

Buy: AmazonBook DepositoryKindle (or visit your local Indie bookstore)

Miss Phryne Fisher is a fantastic character; I first encountered her in the TV show Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries. I prefer my mystery novels to be dark and hard-boiled but in the effort to be a literary explorer, I decided to pick up the first in the Phryne Fisher novels. What I love about the TV show plays a small part in this cosy crime novel.

Set in 1920’s Melbourne, Cocaine Blues follows Miss Fisher as she tries to hunt down an illegal abortionist who is leaving so much damage that the women are lucky to make it out alive. While cocaine is fast rising as the drug of choice in high society, Phryne Fisher finds herself caught up in web of smuggling, corruption and Turkish baths. Cocaine Blues’ mystery may be basic and the resolution far too convenient but this book sets up Phryne Fisher as a private detective that will solve a mystery with style and grace.

This novel is evidently focusing on the lifestyle of a 1920s socialite; take out the mystery and you are still left with a trendy Jazz age story with a strong heroine. The demographic for this novel is clearly focused towards woman; Kerry Greenwood often takes time to describe every inch of Phryne’s outfit and style. Almost to a point where I got a little angry by it, but this translates well to television as visual element is one of the reasons that make the show so great.

Phryne Fisher is a wealthy flapper with plenty of spare time; she is a strong willed feminist and a sensual being that shocks high society in 1920s Melbourne. She seems to have a wealth of knowledge but I can’t seem to pick her age, I gather she must be middle aged with all her life skills but Kerry Greenwood never mentions her age. She takes the time to go into great detail about everything she is wearing, why not give us an idea of her age.

I might be biased towards the TV show Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries but I think that captured Phyrne’s personality and the essence of what Greenwood was trying to write far better than this novel. It was fun to read and I enjoyed experiencing Phryne Fisher’s personality on the page. However I think the TV adaptation does a far better job with all the other characters, including Dot, Bert and Cec. Unfortunately Jack Robinson only got a look in and I’m finding it hard to remember if Hugh Collins even appeared.

If you are looking for a cosy crime novel with a strong kick-ass female detective then Cocaine Blues might be worth checking out. There are currently twenty books in the Phryne Fisher series. Also, as I mentioned a few times, the TV series is excellent. I don’t know if I will read any more in the series, it really depends if I need any light fillers to read and if I have access to the next book. I doubt I’ll ever run out of books to read but who knows maybe another dip into the world of Miss Fisher might be calling me and I can read the next book in the series, Flying Too High.

Driven by James Sallis

Posted July 22, 2012 by Michael @ Knowledge Lost in Pulp / 0 Comments

Driven by James SallisTitle: Driven (Goodreads)
Author: James Sallis
Series: Drive #2
Published: Poisoned Pen Press, 2012
Pages: 158
Genres: Pulp
My Copy: eBook

Buy: AmazonBook DepositoryKindle (or visit your local Indie bookstore)

I really enjoyed Drive, the writing, style and non-linear story, so I was interested to see where this story would go with the sequel. The first major issue with Driven is that it tries to continue a story that really didn’t need to be continued. Now, Driver seems different. Driver’s campaign against those who double-crossed him has ended; now seven years have passed and Driver has a new life and a successful business. One day, he and his fiancée were attacked by two men and while Driver can defend himself, his fiancée is killed. Driver finds that his past is catching up him. Will he face it?

I feel let down by this book, like this was more of a gimmick to follow the success of the movie adaptation of Drive rather than a continuation of Driver’s story. The noir voice is still there but the non-linear story has disappeared and the book ends in an unsatisfying way. Even though Driver has undertaken a transformation, his personality doesn’t seem to suit the character I got to know in the first book. The plot never lived up to its predecessor and this just made this book a weak attempt of a sequel.

I’m not going to lie, I did enjoy this book but having recently read Drive, this book just can’t live up to it. Personally I think there is no real reason to continue the story of Driver; he is a great character but trying to tell the readers what happened to him after he got his revenge seems redundant and unnecessary. The new characters weren’t that great and the shady Felix had so much potential. I wanted to enjoy this book so much more but I continually compared it to Drive and in the end that was this book’s downfall.