Murder in Williamstown

by Kerry Greenwood

Publisher/year: Allen & Unwin/2022

Publisher description

Accustomed to both murder and dalliance, Australia’s favourite detective, the inimitable Miss Fisher, returns in a case that will test her courage and judgement to the full.

When the redoubtable Miss Phryne Fisher receives threatening letters at her home, she enlists her unflappable apprentice Tinker to investigate. But as the harassment of Phryne threatens to spin out of control, her lover Lin Chung is also targeted.

Meanwhile, Dot begins to fear that her fiancé, newly promoted Sergeant Hugh Collins, has gone cold on their wedding. And Phryne’s clever daughters Ruth and Jane begin their own investigation into suspiciously dwindling funds when they are sent to help at the Blind Institute.

None of this is quite enough to prevent Phryne from accepting an invitation to a magnificent party at the house of the mysterious Hong. When the party is interrupted by shocking tragedy, Phryne gathers all of her unerring brilliance to track down the miscreants.

With some unlikely assistance, Phryne is in a race against time to save a pair of young lovers from disgrace and death.

Reviewer 1: Moraig Kisler

Kerry Greenwood is in top form in her latest Phryne Fisher novel Murder in Williamstown: Eagle-eyed Phryne leads us through the seedy docks of Williamstown concealing contraband goods and burly dock workers with left leanings to the sumptuous milieu of the town’s wealthy residents to the smoky opium dens of Melbourne and the guarded Chinese community.

Greenwood researches in depth – she threads historical facts throughout the novel and quickly wraps the reader in an impeccably detailed tapestry of the era. I always uncover a nugget of knowledge from Greenwood e.g Louise Braille inventor of braille books also produced braille music.

Murder in Williamstown romps along with Phyne’s usual hijinks and incisive mind unravelling clues to hunt a killer. And, it wouldn’t be Phryne without a good dose of sexual dalliance. But Greenwood also tackles some deeper themes: forbidden love, racial prejudice, and, of course, murder. The characters develop along with the story. I was delighted to see the unflappable Tinker track the culprit stuffing threatening notes in Phryne’s letterbox. And Phryne’s daughters, Ruth and Jane, assigned by their school to assist at the Blind Institute, also try their hands at sleuthing. Who is fudging the figures at the Blind Institute?

For fans of the series, Murder in Williamstown is Phryne Fisher at her sparkling best. And for those who have not read the series, I would certainly recommend Murder in Williamstown. It’s a cracker of a read!

Reviewer 2: Dianne Honey

Kerry has written another fabulous book set in the 1920’s, in the Phryne Fisher series which thus far I have enjoyed.

Phryne is the heroine, who with help from her household consisting of Dot, her assistant and Phryne’s three adopted children; Jane, Ruth and Tinker solve the mysteries in this story. This is the second book with Phryne allowing the children to do some detecting work for her cases. I liken the children’s involvement to apprentices which I thought was quite successful and I look forward to seeing their characters develop in the future.

Phryne and her household are disturbed by some anonymous and nasty letters left in their letter box.  Phryne has Tinker help her to solve these malicious and offensive letters while Jane and Ruth are at the forefront helping to solve some embezzlement at a charitable institution they are volunteering at.

The story has numerous sub plots including Phryne’s lover Lin Chung who seems to have lost interest in her which opens up the opportunity for her to take on another lover. In the meantime poor Dot, her assistant, is concerned by her fiancé, Sergeant Hugh Collins’s reluctance to confirm their wedding day. But all is not as it seems and the reader must wait for everything to unfold in true Kerry Greenwood manner. 

Set in Williamstown, Phryne finds herself across the bay from Melbourne without support from Bert, Cedric and Jack, until there is a murder and other suspicious matters that does interest the police.

Overall a great, enthralling and well researched book which I enjoyed immensely and read over a couple of nights.