The Green Mill Murder is one of the books of this series which really sticks in my head, mostly because of the descriptions of the flight over the mountains, and then the silence and space of the mountains. That part is so vividly imagined — including Phryne’s dislike of it — that it can’t help but stick in my head… that and the sheer awfulness of both Charles and Mrs Freeman. The mystery itself feels a little unfair… I knew how it was done and still couldn’t piece it together until Phryne, like magic, pulled it out of the hat. I don’t always mind that, myself, but it does rankle with some mystery readers, so it’s worth knowing.
Ostensibly the main mystery of the book is the murder which happens in its opening page, when one of the dancers in a marathon dancing session suddenly collapses, and seems to have been killed with a very slim knife. Something’s changed about the corpse when Phryne next looks at it, but she can’t put her finger on what… and in the meantime her date has vanished off to be copiously sick. Or just vanished: the policeman who goes to look for him finds no trace.
I find the main mystery oddly forgettable, though, despite the power of Nerine’s voice and Tintagel’s alleged charms. I didn’t really see it myself, for Tintagel’s case, though of course Phryne is susceptible to a pretty face… it’s just that he’s also a bit of an amoral bastard, and that always colours my reading of his character. In any case, the bit that sticks in my head is Vic Freeman and his lonely hut. Or not lonely, really, given he has a horse (actually a donkey or mule, I think? I am too lazy to get up and check), a dog, and a wombat (who proves instrumental). The rest of it is full of awful people, but Vic is just happy to be alone, to have some silence and healing away from the city.
It’s an enjoyable read, but sometimes feels a little lopsided to me, because of the bits of the plot I prefer.