A series of mystery novels by Kerry Greenwood.In early 1928, bored, wealthy aristocrat Phryne Fisher (pronounced 'fry-nee') solves a minor mystery at a dinner when she finds a stolen necklace. One of her fellow guests is impressed by her skill at deduction and asks her to solve a case for him in Australia. Phryne returns to her native land, solves the case and becomes a private detective. Taking Melbourne and the rest of Victoria by storm with her class, skills, flair and talent for continually doing scandalous things, she quickly builds up a group of friends and allies- everyone from a pair of cab drivers to one of the few female doctors in the country- while solving her strange and myriad cases.The Phryne Fisher mysteries:
Flying Too High
Murder on the Ballarat Train
Death at Victoria Dock
The Green Mill Murder
Blood and Circuses
Raisins and Almonds
Death Before Wicket
Away With The Fairies
Murder in Montparnasse
The Castlemaine Murders
Queen of the Flowers
Death By Water
Murder in the Dark
A Question of Death (short story collection)
Murder on a Midsummer Night
Dead Man's Chest
Murder and Mendelssohn
The series has recently been adapted into a TV series on ABC, Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries. Several changes have been made from the canon, including removing Ruth entirely, giving Phryne a new sister called Janey and an Aunt called Prudence. Fan reactions have been... mixed at best... although the author loves it.
The books contain instances of these tropes:
Abusive Parents: Phryne and Eliza's mother never really did much to help them, and their father was an alcoholic bastard who continually tried to force his daughters into arranged marriages they didn't want.
Berserk Button: Phryne does not take it well when people mess with anyone in her family- especially Jane, Ruth or Dot, who aren't good at protecting themselves.
Beware the Nice Ones: In Dead Man's Chest, Phryne meets a maid called Bridget, who she describes as being perfectly nice and helpful. In the end of the book, Bridget murders the horrible mother of her employer, probably because she felt sorry for the old woman's over-exhausted companion (her reasons weren't actually stated).
Blue Blood: The Honourable Miss Phryne Fisher and her sister the Honourable Miss Eliza Fisher.
The Butcher: Backyard abortionist 'Butcher George' in Cocaine Blues.
Clueless Mystery: Occurs often. For example, in Murder In The Dark, the abductor is revealed to be Sylvanus, but we're never told some of the things that leads Phryne to figure it out- like that he can't swim, for instance.
Conviction by Counterfactual Clue: One of the things that leads Phryne to believe that the abductor in Murder In The Dark was Sylvanus, which it was turned out to be his being in possession of two lunch boxes. Because it's impossible that he could have just been carrying one to someone else.
Different as Night and Day: Jane and Ruth. Jane is a slim blonde who likes reading and learning, is incredibly intelligent, intends to be a doctor and prefers scientific texts to stories. Ruth is a plump brunette who likes cooking, is smart but not as academically brilliant, intends to be a cook and likes romances. They get along brilliantly, though.
Expy: Murder and Mendelssohn introduces an old friend of Phryne and his unrequited love interest, who are so obviously BBC Sherlock Holmes and John Watson that the author even wrote a bit at the end explaining why.
Evil Matriarch: More like obstructive and annoying matriarch, but Lin Chung's grandmother definitely counts.
Basically, all Chinese matriarchs are like this. Hell, all Chinese elderly women are like this.
Fake-Out Make-Out: Phryne and Bert do this to avoid detection in Little Lonsdale Street in Cocaine Blues.
Also happens between Phryne and Inspector Robinson in the tv series adaptation of Murder in Montparnasse.
I Call Her "Vera": In Murder in the Dark, the assassin known as the Joker has named all of his knives. The one he attempts to use on Phryne is named 'Eleanora', after his mother.
If It's You, It's Okay: John Wilson from Murder and Mendelssohn is gay, but is attracted to Phryne and has no idea why she's the exception.
Instant Sedation: Actually averted in Murder On The Ballarat Train- the sweet scent of chloroform wakes Phryne up (being a light sleeper helped) and the person who had a chloroform-soaked rag laid on her face suffered horrific burns and nearly had liver damage.
No Bisexuals: Eliza, Phryne's sister, is a lesbian, but nobody once brings up the possibility of her being bisexual.
Phryne herself. She once said that 'My Sapphic friends say I'd make a perfect lesbian if I didn't have this strange yen for male genitalia.' The word 'bisexual' has never come up, or anything like it.
No Celebrities Were Harmed: Averted. When Phryne lived in Paris, she bought paintings from Picasso and occasionally talked to Gertrude Stein and Alice Toklas. She was also part of a group of female friends including Dolly Wilde (Oscar Wilde's niece), Joe Carstairs, Natalie Barney and Romaine Brooks.
Non-Action Guy: Dot and Ruth, though both have been known to do some badass things when circumstances called for it.
The Password Is Always Swordfish: In Queen of the Flowers, the password to get on board the gambling ship the Ace of Clubs is "Swordfish" (or, at least, it is on the night Phryne visits).
Public Exposure: Phryne worked as an artist's model in Paris after World War One. She has a painting of naked nymph for which she was the model hanging in her drawing room, to the surprise of some guests.
Recycled IN SPACE!: Several of the stories in A Question Of Death. The story about the Book of Hours is basically a subplot that got dropped from Death Before Wicket, anyone who read Urn Burial should be able to guess most of the plot of Overheard On A Balcony with no trouble, and so on- not to mention that one of the stories is almost exactly the same as a Dorothy L. Sayers short story, plot-wise. They're not all totally unoriginal, of course.
Refuge in Audacity: Phryne does a lot of things normal people shouldn't be able to, such as taking a Chinese man (who gets married) as a lover, dressing scandalously (at least for 1928) and employing and adopting people from the streets. It's justified because as a rich, powerful, connected woman with very few secrets who doesn't care about what people think of her, Phryne is unaffected by the effect these acts should have on her reputation.
Although it's not without repercussions- Mr Butler nearly resigns in Murder in Montparnasse when Lin Chung gets married but Phryne doesn't leave him, and there's a number of scenes where people react aversely to Phryne's habits (like when Evelyn puts her and Lin in rooms at opposite ends of the house because she doesn't like Chinese, in Urn Burial).
Remember the New Guy: We're constantly introduced to people Phryne knew once, mainly from Paris. To be fair, she did have a very interesting life before the books.
Running Gag: Ruth's obsession with romances, up until it gets her into trouble in Queen Of The Flowers, after that the romances mostly vanish.
Sauna of Death: Phyrne and Sascha are locked in a Turkish bath in Cocaine Blues.
Shout-Out: A subtle one; in Murder on the Ballarat Train, a character refers to having lost money in the crash of the Megatherium Trust - a reference to on-going Arc Words in the Lord Peter Wimsey novels.
It's also a Call Back- Bobby in Cocaine Blues ended up starting said Trust and ended up absconding to South America after it failed. It's something of a recurring plot device in Greenwood's novels- basically, if you see 'Megatherium Trust', it's not going to end well.
Skinny Dipping: Phryne and Simon go skinny dipping in Raisins and Almonds.
Smoky Gentlemen's Club: Phryne belongs to a smoky ladies club; a female-only club that is run along the same lines as a traditional gentlemen's club.
Society Marches On: In The Castlemaine Murders, Eliza has a secret she finally confesses to Phryne: she's a socialist- and also, as we find out later, a lesbian. This doesn't seem like much to modern viewers, but the idea of a noble woman being a lesbian socialist would have huge repercussions for Eliza and her entire family in the day.
Spot of Tea: Mr Butler regards a cup of tea as the panacea for every female problem.
Take Me Out at the Ball Game: In Death Before Wicket, the killer attempts a murder during a university cricket match, with a shoe rigged to inject poison into the target while he is one the pitch.
Take That: Murder and Mendelssohn has a subplot that's a clear combination of this and Fix Fic. An old friend of Phryne comes to Australia with a friend who's giving a lecture. He's hopelessly in love with the friend, who doesn't appreciate him and is a complete arsehole. Phryne then investigates who is trying to kill the friend, not because she likes him, but because she's worried that her friend might die saving his life. The subplot would be just fine, if the characters weren't Sherlock Holmes and John Watson. And, Phryne being Phryne, she ends up getting them both together, while bashing the Sherlock-expy for A, being a dick, B, being a misogynist, and C, acting like deduction is something he made up and has never been seen before when women have been using it for hundreds of years.