Murder on a Midsummer Night is a Phryne Fisher Mystery. This is the 17th book in the series. If you, like me, were introduced to the Honorable Miss Fisher through the PBS series, the Miss Fisher Mysteries, you will face a dilemma with the books. The TV series is based very loosely on the books. In the books, there is no romance between Phryne and Detective Jack Robinson, Aunt Prudence does not exist, Phryne’s sister was not murdered, Dot’s police constable fiancé is Catholic, and for the purist, Phryne’s birthday is not December 21. Instead Phryne has a Mr. and Mrs. Butler and two adopted daughters (Jane and Ruth). One can either rail at the liberties taken by the screenwriters, as I did for the first five or so books, or accept that the two series are different stories and enjoy twice the fun.
In this book, Phryne has two mysteries to solve. The first one is the apparent suicide of a young man who runs an antique store. His mother insists that he would not have committed suicide and hires Phryne to find out the truth, which is mixed up in the hunt for treasure from the Temple in Jerusalem. The second is a missing child. A women recently died and left her entire estate to the “heirs of my body”, which would include non-marital children. Before the estate can be settled, Phryne must find out if there was a non-marital child and, if so, where is this child now. The book, as are all the books in the series, is replete with the history of Melbourne and details of Phryne’s wardrobe. This is where the TV series come in. Once you have seen Phryne and her clothes and house, you can easily visualize the book. Phryne comes through, finds the killer although the motive is somewhat murky, and finds the missing child, now in her 60’s.
This was not one of my favorites in the series but was interesting, especially about the military campaign in Palestine during World War I.
Review Submitted by: Rosalind Woolbright