Tuesday, March 16, 2021

Book and Audio Review: Flying Too High by Kerry Greenwood

Flying Too High

Kerry Greenwood
Narrator: Stephanie Daniel
Series: A Phryne Fisher Mystery (Book 2)
Publication: Poisoned Pen Press (September 30, 2011); Bolinda Publishing Pty Ltd (July 9, 2009)
Length: 169 p.; 5 hours and 6 minutes

Description: From the author of the bestselling Phryne Fisher Series comes Flying Too High, the next historical mystery featuring the unstoppable amateur sleuth Phryne Fisher. And this time around, she takes to the air...

Walking the wings of a Tiger Moth plane in full flight would be more than enough excitement for most people, but not for the unflappable Phryne—amateur detective and woman of mystery, as delectable as the finest chocolate and as sharp as razor blades.

In fact, the roaring 1920s' most talented and glamorous murder detective flies even higher here, handling a murder, a kidnapping, and the usual array of beautiful young men with style and consummate ease. A bit of a flight risk herself, she does it all before it's time to adjourn to the Queenscliff Hotel for breakfast. Whether she's flying planes, clearing a friend of homicide charges, or saving a child, Phryne does everything with the same dash and elan with which she drives her red Hispano-Suiza.

My Thoughts: Phryne Fisher is beginning to build her reputation as an amateur sleuth in this episode. She is consulted by Mrs. William McNaughton who overheard a conversation between her son and her husband and now fears that her son is going to kill her husband. 

Phryne goes to consult with the son at his place of business. He teaches flying lessons. Phryne herself is a devotee of flying. It is part of her daredevil nature. She impresses him with various stunts including wing-walking and convinces him to conduct further arguments with his father away from home to keep from upsetting his mother. She thinks everything is settled but the William McNaughton is found dead on his tennis court after being bashed in the head with a paving stone and Bill McNaughton is arrested.

Meanwhile, six-year-old Candida Maldon is kidnapped when she goes out, without parental permission, to buy sweets. Her father has recently won a large sum in a lottery and has attracted villains who want some of it. Phryne also gets involved in that case. 

Phryne mobilizes her forces including truckers Bert and Cec to check out each of these cases. The Police Detective who is investigating the McNaughton case is a man who develops his own theories about cases and doesn't let any contrary evidence change his mind. Phryne is the one who lets the evidence guide the theories. She sends Bert and Cec to find out where the paving stone came from and to check into a group of children the daughter of the house invited in but her father threw out. 

Phryne also checks with witnesses at the sweet shop where Candida was snatched and has a police officer who owes her a favor check out the partial license plate one witness remembers. This leads to identifying the kidnappers but it takes a daring plan including a dangerous airplane flight and Phryne's hitching a ride in the back of the kidnappers vehicle to find out where they have the child stashed. 

This story is firmly rooted in the 1920s. Phryne is a daring young woman who isn't bound by convention. She drinks, she smokes, she takes lovers. She's also wealthy which lets her cruise around in her red Hispano-Suiza and learn to fly Gypsy Moths. The other women in the story like Mrs. McNaughton and Amelia McNaughton live more narrow lives since they are under the thumb of Mr. McNaughton who turns out to physically abuse his wife and daughter and also control all of their access to money. I was also somewhat surprised that a man accused of murder would be released from jail on his own recognizance and for a small bail. 

The story was fast-paced and fun. I enjoyed Stephanie Daniel's narration and also the interview with the author at the end of the story.

Favorite Quote:
The Gypsy Moth trundled on her bicycle wheels along the grassy paddock and lifted intoxicatingly into the air. Take-off was Phryne's favourite moment: the heart-lifting jolt as gravity gave way under pressure and the earth let go of the plane.
I bought this one. You can buy your copy here.

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