When Peregrine Fisher receives a mysterious letter from The Adventuresses’ Club of the Antipodes, she’s the definition of down on her luck: Grieving the death of her mother, she has just been fired from her latest job and is living in a van. The letter’s mention of an inheritance piques Peregrine’s interest, and even though she doesn’t know what The Adventuresses’ Club is or who would have left her money, she eagerly makes her way to Melbourne, Australia, to find out.
Peregrine discovers that the Adventuresses are a group of exceptional women, all highly skilled in their respective fields, and that she’s the niece of Phryne Fisher, a brave private investigator who’s gone missing in the jungles of Papua New Guinea. Her long-lost aunt’s will indicates that Peregrine should inherit Phryne’s fortune: her home, car and, most importantly, her seat in the Adventuresses’ Club. When another member is accused of murder, Peregrine sets out to prove her innocence, live up to her aunt’s reputation as an investigator and earn her spot in The Adventuresses’ Club.
Just Murdered is the novelization of the first episode of “Ms Fisher’s Modern Murder Mysteries,” a spinoff of the TV show based on Kerry Greenwood’s popular Phryne Fisher mysteries. While Phryne’s stories take place in the 1920s, Peregrine takes up the investigator’s mantle in the ’60s, and author Katherine Kovacic does an excellent job placing readers in the swinging decade with references to music, fashion, cars and more.
A fun, fast-paced read, Just Murdered also has a great heroine. Peregrine is intelligent and independent, and her jack-of-all-trades background allows her to cleverly unspool the threads of the mystery. The other Adventuresses make for intriguing characters, too, like former spy Birdie Birnside and Dr. Violetta Fellini, a renowned scientist. While Peregrine begins the novel simply hoping her mysterious inheritance will offer some financial security, she finds a much-needed family in her fellow Adventuresses and a calling in detective work. Just Murdered will leave readers anxious to get their hands on Peregrine’s next case so they can follow more of the Adventuresses’ exploits.