The Portrait of Molly Dean by Katherine Kovacic (Bonnier, 2018); audiobook read by Casey Withoos (Wavesound, 2020) What would have been a hardboiled detective story in 1930s Melbourne (the setting of the murder) turns to a more cosy mystery in 1999 (when art dealer Alex Clayton attempts to solve it). Kovacic’s easy narrative style cannot quite bridge the disparity. …
Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries, Series 3 (ABC, 2015) A fitting conclusion to the trilogy of series. The character arcs run their course without falling into a maddening cycle of fulfilment and denial. The mysteries remain cosy and the Melbourne setting retains its charm. A rare instance of quitting while ahead.
Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries, Series 2 (ABC, 2013) The Honourable Miss Phryne Fisher and Detective Inspector Jack Robinson team up for another series of murder-mystery-solving in 1920s Melbourne. While the characters continue to develop, thankfully their stories don’t intrude too much on the detective work. A diverting, light-hearted period drama.
Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries, Series 1 (ABC, 2012) A series that stands far better when viewed in its own right, rather than as an adaptation of Kerry Greenwood’s novels. Set in 1920s Melbourne, the mysteries comprise a well-pitched blend of (not-too-)quirky characters, serious crime and light-hearted societal comings and goings.
Cocaine Blues by Kerry Greenwood (McPhee Gribble, 1989); audiobook read by Stephanie Daniel (Bolinda, 2010) Greenwood evinces as no-nonsense an approach to plotting as does the irrepressible Phryne Fisher to solving mysteries and bucking societal norms. The result is a fast-moving romp through 1920s Melbourne, more worldly than Wodehouse but with a similarly delightful turn of phrase.
St Kilda Blues by Geoffrey McGeachin (Penguin, 2014); audiobook read by David Tredinnick (Playaway, 2014) Though the investigation itself is commonplace, McGeachin immerses his protagonist in the details of history, presenting a time capsule of Australian—in particular, Melburnian—culture in the late 1960s. Stolid ex-WWII bomber pilot Charlie Berlin shows mettle worthy of the character study.
Macbeth dir. Geoffrey Wright (2006) Well cast and drawing on the gangster film genre’s rich tradition of murder and betrayal, this dark and stylish Australian production — transplanting Shakespeare onto the Melbourne underworld — makes for a disturbingly good introduction to the plot and dialogue of the Scottish Play.