Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Mystery Book Review: Earthly Delights by Kerry Greenwood

Mysterious ReviewsMysterious Reviews, mysteries reviewed by the Hidden Staircase Mystery Books, has written a review of Earthly Delights by Kerry Greenwood. For our blog readers, we are printing it first here in advance of its publication on our website.Earthly Delights by Kerry Greenwood

Earthly Delights by
A Corinna Chapman Mystery

Poisoned Pen Press (Hardcover)
ISBN-10: 1-59058-393-0 (1590583930)
ISBN-13: 978-1-59058-393-7 (9781590583937)
Publication Date: June 2007
List Price: $24.95

Synopsis (from the publisher): Corinna Chapman was once a high profile accountant and banker. That is until she walked out on the money market and her dismissive and unpleasant husband James, threw aside her briefcase, and doffed her kitten heels forever. Now she is a baker working in her own business, Earthly Delights, in Flinders Lane, , Australia.

Corinna is living in an eccentric building on the Roman model called Insula, which has eight stories, sixteen apartments, and a lot of strange and interesting people. These include a retired professor of classics, Dionysius Monk; a Dutch gardener named Trudi; Mr. and Mrs. Pemberthy and their rotten little doggie, Traddles; a pair of disgustingly thin, would-be soapie stars Goss and Kylie; and a jobbing witch, Meroe of The Sibyl's Cave.

Corinna is quite content with her cat Horatio and her shop until a junkie falls half dead on her grate, a gorgeous sabra stalks along her alley and tells her that she is beautiful, and she starts receiving threatening letters accusing her of being a scarlet woman.

Then it is Goths, lost girls, fraud, late nights, nerds, and beautiful slaves. Life for Corinna has suddenly become interesting. And she still needs to get her bread out in time for the morning rush.

Review: Kerry Greenwood, author of the popular Phryne Fisher mysteries, introduces a new series featuring Melbourne (Australia) bakery owner Corinna Chapman in Earthly Delights.

It is probably inevitable and no doubt unfair to compare this new series introducing Corinna Chapman to Greenwood's long-running series featuring Phryne Fisher. But Greenwood seems to invite such comparison. The plot isn't important in Earthly Delights which is for the most part completely forgettable; the author's focus here is on character development. She seems determined to portray Corinna Chapman as the anti-Phryne Fisher.

Where Phyrne came from a humble background to become a member of the Melbourne aristocracy, Corinna has abandoned the world of high finance (and no doubt high income) to toil in a bakery. Phryne is sophisticated and stylish; Corinna is dowdy. Phryne is a woman of action; Corinna seems content to allow events to come to her. They do have something in common: they're both terribly opinionated. But while this trait works in Phyrne's favor, it makes Corinna seem a bit petulant.

It's all well and good to create a new character for a series different from the one readers are familiar with. But Greenwood has extended this comparison between the two to the plots of their respective series. The Phyrne Fisher mysteries are thrilling adventures whereas Earthly Delights is slow and cumbersome and dull. There are, for example, entire chapters that seem to be dedicated to describing the difficulties in managing a one-woman bakery and the art of making bread.

Corinna Chapman has the potential to be an interesting character, but she needs something to challenge her, a puzzle to solve. Maybe the next book in the series will provide a mystery worthy of her, and the reader's, attention.

Special thanks to Poisoned Pen Press for providing an ARC of Earthly Delights for this review.

Review Copyright © 2007 — Hidden Staircase Mystery Books — All Rights Reserved.

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