I wasn’t planning on going to into depth on my recent read of Cocaine Blues by Kerry Greenwood. I enjoyed the snot out of that little book – but I didn’t really feel like I had too much to say on it yet. I decided to hunt down the TV show with fingers crossed I could find it and I did! I can watch it in a few places, though I do have to pay for it, but after catching the first episode it’s super worth it. So I’m going to talk about the first book and first episode (and hopefully each consecutive one) to record my thoughts.
So the book was fun, I was a bit pulled out at the time of reading by Phryne’s constant changing of clothes and the fact that I guessed the story’s ultimate twist from the start. However, I really enjoyed everything else about it! Phryne is wickedly funny, the humor in this is sharp and just an edge of ‘what the hell did she just say’. Once I realized what kind of humor it was, it got so much better. It’s so easy to miss those little sly remarks, but Phryne manages to slip them in and Kerry Greenwood did a great job with her.
She’s a lot like a… (heaven help, I can’t believe I’m saying this) better female Sherlock. Better in only some ways, but she does have something on him. First off being that she’s a woman and well, I’m going to enjoy a woman a bit more. I can relate to her. Also, and this is all on the author, this particular mystery was so perfectly suited to a woman detective. A mix of a bad guy abortionist, a cocaine ring, and finally the poisoning of a woman. She picked up and tied things together so well. The multitude of characters really help as well. I love everyone from Phrne, Dot, and Doctor MacMillan to the communist cabbies Bert and Cec. As I stated in my Goodreads review, I seriously hope that this is the shaping up of Phryne’s squad.
Phryne herself is great, and this is especially where the show first hit it out of the park for me. From the time she walked off the ship with that saunter to the time she threatened the inmate… ugh. She was magnificent. She has that carefree attitude that I thought was so captivating in the book. According to her era’s standards loose and wild, but really it’s a strong dose feminism. She’s very much her own woman doing her own thing. It’s wonderful! She makes many snide remarks mocking society and in the book in particular makes several mocking ‘women’s place’. I cheered a little each time.
Moving onto the show itself, it was a blast. It had me smiling and laughing as much as the book though they did trim it down and change it a bit. The plot is more straight forward and they took the approach to the mystery that a lot of modern day crime shows do. Our detective has it figured out, but we as viewers don’t know they do till the end. I tend to fall for this horribly manipulative mechanic, but it works for me. I love the always present dialogue of ‘how’d you know?’ where we’re told and often shown the parts that tipped off the detective so we can then in turn go ‘Holy shit, how’d I miss that!’.
The costumes were amazing, absolutely stunning. I was tickled especially with Doc Mac. Though she is quite a bit younger and physically different from her book source I like her look a lot in the show, then again I love women dressed in men’s clothing. If I could pull it off I would. This is where the show actually improved the book for me. The constant pulling back I experienced in the book led me to really paying attention to the dresses and outfits in the show. I don’t know that I would have appreciated them as much! So bravo! And can we talk really quick about Dot and how she’s scared of electricity? That tiny little addition to her character made her all the more lovable to me. So adorable!
Overall even if you don’t want to read the books I say watch the show. It’s hilarious and clever, a great piece of the detective based cinema for me. I am super, super excited to get to book two and episode two and report back, I have my fingers crossed tight that this series will stay strong for me. I hope to report back on it as well! Thanks for reading and let me know if you pick up the books or the show, I’d love to hear if anyone else has enjoyed it!