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Sunday, September 30, 2018

Just Finished Reading... Spotted Dog by Kerry Greenwood. Sydney: Allen and Unwin, 2018

It has been seven years since the last Corinna Chapman novel, but in the world of Corinna, it’s still summer of the year the original story began, soon after the events of Cooking The Books, in which Corinna was working as part of the catering team for the cast of a soap opera pilot, and solving some mysteries that felt like they came from a soapie.

In case you’re not familiar with this series, it’s by the author of the Phryne Fisher novels, but set in the CBD of modern Melbourne instead of the seaside suburb St Kilda in the 1920s. Unlike Phryne, Corinna Chapman is a large lady, rather like the author, and enjoys cooking, when she isn’t running her bakery downstairs from her flat in Insula, a Roman-themed apartment block in the middle of Melbourne. She isn’t really a sleuth in her own right, but having a private eye boyfriend means she is always solving mysteries with him.

This one involves a missing explosives sniffer dog and his former soldier handler, an Afghanistan veteran. There’s also someone breaking into Insula, hunting for a religious relic, a bunch of young actors rehearsing in the Mars apartment and a computer hacker doing nasty things to the computer belonging to the Pandamus family, owners of Cafe Delicious.

It’s a delightful read, and if you’ve been following the series, some things happen finally. Two likeable regular characters become an item. Timbo, Daniel and Corinna’s “chauffeur”, who was once a getaway driver before being rescued by Daniel, Corinna’s boyfriend, becomes their...getaway driver! Not only that, he finally eats with them. As usual, there are some red herrings along the way.

I found it very easy and comfortable to slip back into this universe after reading and re-reading the first six books in the series. To be honest, I am finding I prefer them to the Fisher novels, which were wonderful, but the later ones were not quite as enjoyable, for me at least, as the earlier novels. Most violence happens offstage. (In this one, the main violence involves an enraged naked Corinna dealing with a hapless burglar...) There are few dead bodies in this series, which truly deserves to be called a “cosy.”  The mysteries are about missing people and, in one case, who has been vandalising the high quality chocolates from a shop down the road.

As usual, the novel ends with a party at Insula, and there are recipes from the novel to try. They are, as always, simple and based on stuff Kerry Greenwood cooks in her own kitchen. I wouldn’t mind trying the title recipe and onion pan bread, but there are others...


AJ Blythe said...

Oh, I didn't realise there was a new book out! I really enjoy this series (more than the book version of Phryne). I started reading them from the library but enjoyed them so much I've bought second hand copies of most of the books. I'll have to keep an eye out for htis at the Lifeline Book Fair next year =)

Sue Bursztynski said...

Yes, it’s just come out. If you don’t want to wait, I bet your library has a copy or two. I bought it in ebook.