Death at Victoria Dock

Death at Victoria Dock by Kerry Greenwood. If on your ride home tonight a pair of anarchists shot out your windshield after murdering a colleague they suspected of being too talkative, would you insist on avenging the young man and finding the two criminals? If you’re anything like young, fearless Phryne Fisher of 1920s Melbourne, you would. And along the way, you’d enlist the help of two communist cab drivers to gather information about the anarchists, manage to seduce a former Latvian revolutionary and help start your maid on her own romantic path. The anarchists won’t take kindly to your interference and will strike back, putting your entire household under attack. Also, this pursuit of vengeance doesn’t pay the bills, so you’ll take on a case of a runaway girl and since your two adopted daughters are classmates of the missing miss, you can use their inside knowledge and connections to find the key clue and enact a rescue.

Greenwood consistently puts the daring Phryne in the middle of the action, but in each book brings out some of the additional cast around her. The anarchist plot does have a higher level of danger than some of the other stories and allows Dot, the maid, to get some of the limelight. It also brings the cabbies Bert and Cec, two of my favorite characters, back into prominence. The runaway plot is an average sidebar, but provides an opportunity for Jane and Ruth, the daughters, to make their presence felt.

This is the sixth book in the series that I have read. I still like the initial tale, Cocaine Blues, the best, but this one does a better job involving the supporting players and creating suspense than some of the others. Greenwood continues the damsel-in-distress theme prevalent in several of her books, but also presents a full range of female characters, especially in the runaway plot with the victim, her classmates, her stepmother, and two nuns besides Phryne and Dot.

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