My husband has family in Ballarat and I have been there several times. I thought it would be pretty cool to read Greenwood’s 1920’s version of the city, so imagine my mild chagrin when not a single piece of the action took place there. It’s not the book’s fault; I played myself. “The Ballarat Train” being in the title is no guarantee the train ever makes it to Ballarat. Oh well. The next book in the series is called Death at Victoria Dock. In an effort to better manage my expectations, I shall make no assumptions about any of the book taking place dockside.
Though I was robbed of descriptions of 1920’s Ballarat, I enjoyed the murder mystery and the side mystery and the side-side mystery, and the different ways they all connected. I think Greenwood did a much better job this time around blending the darker elements of the story with the lighter, cheekier elements. Even though the story dealt with human trafficking, rape, and murder, those swerves into Darkville weren’t nearly so jarring. Either the writing is improving or I’m acclimating to Greenwood’s style.
Speaking of the writing . . .
One of the things I love about this series is that Phryne unabashedly goes through a series of flavor-of-the-month lovers. She’s not here for long term relationships, but she’s sure as hell here for great sex. Move over, Bond Girls. Here come the Fisher Boys! Or the “pets,” as Phryne’s household staff call them. This book’s pet seems like a nice enough chap, though at first he feared Phryne was a tease who would string him along and leave him with blue balls. And then during the ensuing sex scene appears a paragraph which, if I didn’t know better, I would swear was written by a man in a work of “serious literature”:
As the lips closed, Phryne gave a soft cry, and Lindsay was inside her, the strong but liquid, blood-heat tissue and muscle clutching and sucking, and Lindsay realized that she did not mean to cheat him.
I’m not turned on so much as I’m wondering if Phryne’s been possessed by some sort of alien vagina monster.