Plum Pudding Muffins and S&M

Update on 6/22/12: Now downloadable from Amazon for FREE!

The writer of the delightful Phryne Fisher series jumps nine decades into the future, to bring us Corinna Chapman, baker. Corinna lives and bakes in present day Melbourne, Australia, in one of the truly great buildings of fiction, the Insula, eight stories covered in peacock blue tiles where each apartment is named for a Roman god or goddess and decorated accordingly. Someone is terrorizing the women in the building with poison pen letters, graffiti and vandalism, and someone else is killing junkies on Corinna’s very doorstep. Of course she takes action, however reluctantly, and along the way we meet her friends and neighbors, including Meroe the witch

I believe in absolutely nothing except yeast and the inevitability of politicians, so Meroe and I have agreed not to discuss it. Thus we have stayed friends.

the Lone Gunmen, whose tech shop Corinna describes thusly

The walls were painted black just like every nerd’s bedroom, and were layered with posters for each new video game. I would bet that somewhere right against the paint there would be an ad announcing Pac Man. Someone was lurking behind the counter, trying to stay out of direct sunlight and reading William Gibson.

and her two employees, Kylie and Gossamer

It was no use trying to describe either of them by mundane things like hair or eye colour. These could change overnight. At the moment Gossamer had greenish hair and bright green contacts in…Kylie had had pink hair and her own eyes, which are blue. Or so I believe…The only way I could be sure about their identity was their navels, which were always on display. Kylie had a silver ring with a blue stone in it in hers which is round and flat. Gossamer has a gold ring in hers, and it tends to have a lip on the upper rim…Otherwise they really could be twins.

Not forgetting Daniel, the hunky PI, Jason, the recovering heroin addict slash apprentice, the Mouse Police, aka Rodent Patrol Officers Heckle and Jeckle, and her partner, Horatio

…a gentlemanly cat [who] considers it impolite to hurry his food. Besides, he needs to remove every crumb from his whiskers before he steps down to the meet the Mouse Police, a rough but pleasant pair, far removed from him in elegance. Horatio is an aristocrat. I occasionally feel that I am unable to meet his stringent requirements for suitable conduct in a Lady.

The plot takes Corinna in some decidedly new directions, not least of which is a private S&M club, and no matter what she says at the end

Memo to the universe re Corinna Chapman as an investigator: I quit.

we know she lies. Partly because there are four more books in the series, upon which I am soon to embark. The icing on the cake, or in this case, muffins? There are recipes. Yummmmmmm…

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13 Comments Leave a comment

  1. Thanks for the great review – I couldn’t have put it as well. Minor correction – Corinna’s apartment/bakery is not in a fictitious building, except by name (which, of course, I don’t recall). Barbara and I have been to see it, and it is a classic.

  2. OMG – and the building exists!!! Thanks Dana – I’ve followed your book recommendations in the past, to my great delight. This time you’ve really hit the ball out of the park. I’ve gotten my hands on ALL the Corinna books, and am obsessively reading my way through them in one fell swoop. Thank you – curse you.

  3. IT’S REAL!!!! My sister lives north of Sydney and I WILL go to visit her again someday and MAKE her take me to see it!!!! I have read all of Greenwood’s books as soon as I can find them and have loved her for ages. On my list of “people I so wish I could meet and probably never will” – Dana, you’re at the top of that list!

  4. Oh, isn’t that building wonderful! I will read the book, because you had me at “plum pudding muffins”. Thank you for the review and the recommendation.

  5. I love these books, even more than her Phryne Fisher ones, which is saying something. And that building is REAL?? I have stalked Melbourne via google street view and still never knew it was real.

    However, the recipes . . . I have made both a soup and a muffin recipe from the given recipes and they just didn’t work. I even carefully followed the measurements, noting the conversion and still . . . But your mileage may vary.

  6. Great fun all, wish she’d write another one! Still waiting for next Miss Fisher, getting into the 30s now but relieved to find Phryne cannily getting out of stocks and shares and putting her money into land, housing and food – so she won’t have to rely on detecting alone!

  7. Just bought the first one yesterday as I love the Phryne series and have now rear all bar the last. I also bought the first of a series you mentioned last week… The night of the twelfth, enjoying that at present. Did you ever read the Boney series by Arthur Upfield, love them and reread on a regular basis. Love to know what you think of them Dana….

  8. If you are an audio book fan, the recordings of the Chapman novels are wonderful. I wish this series would continue -the characters are fascinating!

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