‘Then there are the appearances of the ghost. What do you think about ghosts, Dot?’
‘You should get onto the church. You should call Father Ryan. It’s their business,’ said Dot firmly. ‘All this spirit talking and table-turning, it’s mortally sinful.’
‘Now, I suppose, is not the time to tell you that I am going to the Spiritualist church tonight with Selwyn Alexander?’ asked Phryne with a smile.
‘Oh, Miss, you be careful.’
‘I’ll be safe with Selwyn, Dot. He’s in love with Miss Esperance as who wouldn’t be. She is perfectly beautiful.’
‘It’s not your virtue I’m worrying about, Miss, I reckon you can take care of that. But Father Ryan preached about it only last week. Possession, he said, possession is the great danger of spiritualism and he was talking about an exorcism he had performed. Some silly madam was playing with an Ouija board and got herself possessed. He says they aren’t the spirits of the dead, who are with God, but the temptations of the Devil.’
‘Dot dear, I’m sure that the Devil had other things to do.’
‘No, Miss, he’s got plenty of time – he “walks to and fro upon the earth, seeking whom he might devour” – that’s what the Bible says.’ Dot was in deep earnest and Phryne patted her hand.
‘I don’t think you can be possessed unless you want to,’ she soothed. ‘And I don’t want to be. It can’t be that bad, Dot dear, lots of people go to these spirit readings – it’s been popular ever since so many young men didn’t come home from the War. There are many lost souls.’
‘Souls,’ said Dot firmly, ‘are with God.’
‘You know what I mean. If it makes some poor bereaved mother feel better if she thinks that her son is somewhere with a lot of flowers and happy singing – much though that might not have suited him in his earthly form – what harm does it do?’
‘It’s dangerous,’ said Dot mulishly. ‘I don’t like it, Miss.’
‘Then I’m sorry, but I’m going.’
I’m happy this wasn’t the first of the Miss Fisher Mysteries I read. Don’t get me wrong, I liked it, but in many ways it was less intriguing than the first I read.
The first half of the novel leans heavily on dialogue, there is very little action. It is enjoyable anyway because Greenwood peoples her theatre of many interesting, quirky, unique characters, but there are so many of them and some gets very little time in the story, that I ended up mixing them up. Not all of them, of course, but enough to get confused, especially in the end.
There are three mysteries in this novels, which I like, but again, they tend to become mixed together, which if it’s something I find good (because that’s how life works) it’s also something that I found confusing. I suppose the problem is I had a hard time identifying a main course of the story that would have guided me through it.
I missed the usual cast. This is a story that focuses very much on Phryne. Some of the usual characters show up, but they remain on the fringes, even Jack Robinson, who, after all, is investigating the crime. As I said, there are plenty of other interesting characters, so I’m not complaining, I just missed the usual ‘friends’.
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