The first story is Cocaine Blues, and in accordance with the title, cocaine does feature in the story. I was a bit apprehensive about how the famous drug will participate, but it wasn't in a positive light, thankfully.
Having seen the series adaptation of the books, I couldn't help comparing the two. The series has an air of the 20s about it, part of what makes it so great. The book does as well. I tried to remember if I'd seen the story itself in the series, but I couldn't remember. However, the first season was over a year ago, and my memory concerning crime serieses is notoriously bad. It does allow me to see one episode multiple times though.
The TV show has a lot of sexual elements, and the book didn't disappoint in that regard.
The story itself was a lot of fun. It wasn't unsolvable, there were no clues hidden from us. What I also liked was how there wasn't just one story in the book, but several running simultaneously. You have Phryne entering Australian society, Dot's appearance, the story of the girl, the Russians, and the cocaine. I didn't mind them though, and while it may sound a bit chaotic, the stories flowed together well.
Phryne is of course the central character, but the view is not third person limited. We do get to see other happenings, that are not centred around her. She is as interesting as she is on TV. One thing that gave more depth to her in the book was that she wasn't always rich. The last time she had seen Melbourn was as a poor child. It took her out of the regular flapper attitude, and grounded her in reality.
Dot is as endearing as on TV. Their meeting is under different circumstances, and I liked this version.
Bert and Cec are in, but the inspector didn't play as big a role as he did on TV. I'm hoping that he'll make more appearances in the following books.
Overall, a really good start. It's a fun crime novel series. What I especially liked about it was that it felt like what I usually read. The style had a comfortable, easy feel to it, that made me feel secure. I can't pinpoint what gave this feeling to it, perhaps the prose had a simple quality to it, but I really liked that.
The second story in the book is Flying Too High. Frankly, I wasn't as impressed by this one, as I was with the first one. It took me longer to read as well. It's actually not one case, but two that happen at the same time. They are connected by the use of a plane in them, but I think the bigger reason why they were put together was that they would just be too short on their own.
One is the kidnapping of a little girl, the other is the death of a rich man. As a side story, we meet more of Phryne's friends, and also see her moving into her new home.
The stories were a bit too simple. The kidnapping we already knew who had done it, it was just a matter of how they were going to get the girl back. About the death I had my suspicions, and I was proven right.
One thing that I noticed was that the stories suffer from the author not knowing when to stop. After all is said and done, we still get Phryne doing something, having a party, eating, etc. I skipped that. Hopefully the next story will be better, and this one just suffered from 2nd book problems.
The third story, Murder on the Ballarat Train, was probably my favourite so far. It also has two cases going on at the same time, but they blend together a lot more than they did in the previous story. Their real connection is the train, but also that the main victim in one case is also connected to the other case. If I said how, that would be giving something away.
There is some more sex here, and I actually liked this guy. It was kind of cute.
The murder case is interesting. I was kind of going back and forth on who did it. The case of the girl is, however, a bit problematic for me. I know that what they talk about was popular in the 20s, but in this story it's actually made up to be a legit thing. Which I don't think it is.
Overall, not a bad start to such a long series. It had a low point in the second story, but the third one brought the level back to me. While I was doubting reading on before, the third story made me want to pick up the next installment.