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heroine with style and panache
on 21 July 2012
Urn Burial is the 8th in the Phryne Fisher series by Kerry Greenwood. Phryne and her Chinese lover, Lin Chung, along with their essential attendants, ladies maid, Dot and bodyguard, Li Pen, attend a house party at Cave House in the Gippsland mountain country. But even their arrival is dramatic, with a gunshot and the rescue of a hysterical parlourmaid who has been assaulted in the fog. Their host, Phryne's good friend Tom Reynolds, is receiving death threats by note, and before Phryne has a change to investigate anything, she falls foul of a trap meant to kill Tom. There is a variety of interesting house guests including a military bully with a frightened wife, a mother intent on marrying off her daughter to a rich young man, the rich young man's friend, who feels cheated out of his inheritance by Tom, a doctor with a nervous disposition, a novelist, a couple of spinsters, one of whom is raising funds to help the heathen masses, and a Polish poet. There is also a cast of staff not to be discounted when it comes to suspects. And of course, the erudite swagman who leads the cave tour. By the time Phryne discovers the parlourmaid has been strangled to death, the roads are cut by the rising river, giving this mystery a locked-room aspect. Just to keep things interesting, there is a secret door, a flooded cellar, a cave tour, cryptic notes left in the library, funerary urns appearing in bedrooms, secret assignations between lovers, a long lost amnesiac boyfriend and an estranged son. In an ending that reveals the secrets that each of the cast is hiding, our charming, sexy, independent, liberated and candid heroine manages to solve the puzzle with panache and style. Readers will look forward to the next instalment, Raisins and Almonds.