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RAISINS AND ALMONDS


By Kerry Greenwood

Poisoned Pen Press, 2007 ($24.95)
ISBN: 978-1-59058-168-1

Reviewed by Shirley Wetzel

The Honourable Phryne Fisher is feeling a bit lonely while her Chinese lover is out of the country, so she finds a temporary replacement. Simon Abrahams is young and innocent, his only flaw being his protective Jewish mother. Phryne is invited to dinner at his home, where she assures Mrs. Abrahams that she has no long-term designs on her son. By the end of the evening, everyone is on good terms. Phryne makes such a good impression, in fact, that Simon's father asks her to look into a case involving one of his employees. Miss Sylvia Lee, a timid, quiet bookstore owner, is an unlikely candidate for a murderer, but the police believe they have enough evidence to convict her of killing a man who died in her shop. She claims that the victim, a Jewish scholar, was only a customer, nothing more.

DI Jack Robinson, a friend of Phryne's, tells her this is an open and shut case of a woman scorned, but the plucky and resourceful amateur sleuth is not so sure. Her efforts to clear the woman's name take her into both modest homes and opulent mansions of the Jewish community, opening her eyes to a culture she knows little about. While Australia was not anti-Semitic, the homelands the immigrants came from definitely were, and they fear the same thing happening in their new country.

Phryne and friends take on the case and get far more than they'd bargained for, but as always, she and her taxi driving buddies Bert and Cec, her faithful companion Dot and policeman boyfriend, and even Phryne's two adopted daughters see that justice is done. Oh yes, and DI Jack Robinson gets some of the credit too.

Phryne is a wonderful character, strong and independent with a soft heart for her abused waifs, abandoned puppies, and wrongly accused people. She takes her pleasures where she finds them, and just as easily lets them go. I look forward to every installment of the series.

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