Tuesday, July 26, 2016

A Keen Deductive Mind and Killer Cheekbones, or Thoughts on Essie Davis in Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries

Essie Davis is The Honourable Phryne Fisher

Essie Davis, who you might remember as Amelia from The Babadook (2014), the Lady Crane from Game of Thrones, or Maggie from The Matrix: Reloaded (2003) starred as the lovely lady detective Phryne Fisher in the delightfully retro Australian TV series, Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries (2012).  A thoroughly modern 1920's flapper, especially from a 21st Century perspective, Phryne is often underestimated on the account of her considerable beauty and charm.  The series begins as Miss Fisher, mountain climber, airplane pilot, excellent shot with her gold-plated revolver and all-around adventuress with a Louise Brooks bob, returns to her native Melbourne and begins a new career as a Australia’s first female consulting detective.
Phryne Fisher, an independently wealthy woman of leisure, is assisted in her crime fighting endeavors by Dot, her paid companion/sidekick, as portrayed by Ashleigh Cummings, along with the aptly named Mr. Butler, her butler (Richard Bligh) and her drivers and all around muscle Bert and Cec, as played by Travis McMahon and Anthony Sharpe.  In addition there’s also a dashing police inspector (isn’t there always) as played by Nathan Page, who is always reluctant to take advantage of Miss Fisher’s considerable assets.
Phryne also makes time to adopt a street urchin/ragamuffin/pickpocket named Jane that she met on a case, “Murder on the Ballarat Train.” from Season 1.  Miriam Margoyles, Professor Sprout from Harry Potter, but who will be forever remembered as the Infanta Maria Escalosa of Spain from Blackadder, stars as Phryne’s disapproving Aunt Prudence.  
Less Agatha Christie and more Dash Hammett with Nick and Nora Charles crossed with Downton Abbey, owing to the time period and gorgeous fashions, the series has none of the bleakness of a modern crime drama.   You get your standard murders with uncomplicated, clearly defined good guys and bad guys while still dealing with contemporary issues, such as LGBT rights, interracial marriage, and the drug trade, all from a 1920’s, Jazz Age perspective.
The name Phryne, in case you’re wondering, (and I know you are), refers to an ancient Greek courtesan who was tried for impiety, often described as a “prophetess of Aphrodite”.

 my first novel?  thanks for asking:)  it’s a the first book in a 4 volume supernatural martial arts series chock full of killer kung-fu witches, haunted carnivals, punk rock assassins, and a 24-hr diner with the best pie in town…