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A Novel Idea!: Death By Water - 2018

Death By Water

Review by Susan B.

= Read & Recommend


Phryne Fisher is an Australian heiress who is quirky, fiercely intelligent, deeply kind, fearless, and possessing a keen eye for both a perfectly-cut dress and a perfectly-cut set of male abdominals.  While her behavior might raise a few eyebrows in today’s day and age, her behavior and morals set lots of eyebrows flying into the stratosphere and tongues wagging in 1920s Melborne, which is the time and place of this delightful book series by Kerry Greenwood.  

Miss Fisher (as she is most commonly known) surrounds herself with a ragtag crew of dockhands, orphans, a Chinese aristocrat (and frequent lover), and Detective Jack Robinson from the local police force who first resists, then reluctantly gives in, to her assistance on many a baffling case – for you see, Miss Fisher is not only a well-read heiress with piles of beautiful frocks to her name, but she is also a brilliant private investigator as well.  

Growing up penniless, Miss Fisher was forced to make ends meet in a variety of interesting and frequently scandalous ways once she left home, until World War I exploded across Europe. A sometimes spy, and a frequent ambulance driver for the French Allies, she passed the war hoping to simply stay alive and come out the other end intact, but with so many of her male relatives killed in battle, she found herself at the end of the war with her father unexpectedly coming into both a pile of money and a title, and the grubby ambulance driver suddenly found herself known as ‘The Honourable Phyrne Fisher’ with piles of money to spare.   


'Who are you?' asked the doctor.  
You are not the standard cruise passenger, I can tell you that.  
'Thank you,' said Phryne in a self-possessed manner.  
You are correct.  I am a lot of things, some of which do not concern you,
but mostly I am Phryne Fisher.'  


In ‘Death By Water’, we find Miss Fisher on a luxurious yacht, hired by the cruise line to get to the bottom of a series of perplexing jewel robberies that have been taking place on the ship.  Accompanied by her faithful personal maid Dot, Phryne gets to know her fellow passengers as well as the staff on the boat, all while purposely showing off her overly-large Indian sapphire in the hopes of enticing the would-be cat burglar into striking again.  As always, Kerry Greenwood writes a page-turning and lively tale, not only entertaining the reader but also educating them at the same time on 1920s history and culture – which this time (as the cruise is to New Zealand) includes history and culture of the Maori people as well as Miss Fisher’s native Australia. While I certainly had my favorites among the passengers and crew, as well as several folks I would never like to meet in person, I never did see the unmasking of the villain coming, and was entertained through the entire book.  For those who like their reading snappy and witty, with sharp barbs, fascinating historical references and lots of strong female characters, ‘Death By Water’ is a must-read.  



  • Length: 250 pages
  • Published by: Poisoned Pen Press. in 2018
  • ISBN: 1590587340
  • Category:  Fiction