This light hearted story has a most likable, eccentric, some would say immoral, heroine, Phryne Fisher. Phryne, seemingly awash in wealth, busies herself with investigating various wrongdoings in Australia. Even though the story takes place in Melbourne, Australia, there are numerous flashbacks to memories of Phrynes time in Paris, when she was recovering from her horrifying days as an ambulance driver during World War I. Now in Melbourne, she is attracted to the suspicious murder of Australian men who were soldiers in Paris during the time she was there. The disappearance of a young girl recently arrived from a finishing school in France also arouses her interest.
The books descriptions of once besieged Paris are the most vivid. There are details of the seamy Parisian bohemian life, spiced by the appearance of famous poets, artists, musicians, and general hangers on. At one point the author even lists the items, now artifacts, that Phryne carried when driving her ambulance. This is a city Phryne obviously loved, the city where for the first time in her young life she had found kindness and freedom. It would have helped if we were told how and why Phryne left.
The dark side of 1920s Melbourne is brought to light as well, with both police and strong arm types on the take. Phrynes days are further clouded with the upcoming arranged marriage of her sexy lover, Lin Chung. On a brighter side is the Food Reform Movement, with its efforts to teach people to forsake their typical fried food and sauces diet in favor of grains, vegetables, and fish. The Lord Mayors Ball, a prestigious affair much sought after by Melbourne citizens, also makes an appearance.
This is number twelve in the Phryne Fisher series.