Death becomes her
Is any indication. Guy Davis looks at the popular private eye’s latest case.
his is a holiday – must you find murder everywhere?” Dr Elizabeth Macmillan asks her friend, elegant sleuth Phryne Fisher.
“You know very well that murder finds me,” is Phryne’s reply, much to the delight of the fans of Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries.
It’s easy to understand why this ABC series, wrapping up its second season on Sunday with a Christmas episode titled “Murder Under the Mistletoe”, has struck such a chord with viewers here and abroad.
Despite various poor unfortunates meeting untimely demises each episode, it’s comforting rather than confronting – you just know that justice will be served, thanks to the indefatigable Miss Fisher’s investigative skills.
And even if the identity of the culprit sometimes comes as no surprise to anyone familiar with the conventions of a mystery story, Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries goes through its paces with a tone of smart, saucy sophistication.
So one would expect nothing less from the series’ Christmas episode, which gets off to a shocking start – literally – when a fellow’s efforts to get his Christmas tree lights glowing results in his electrocution.
Of course, foul play is involved – we’ve seen a hand sneak into frame and tamper with the wiring.
So it’s lucky that Miss Fisher ( Essie Davis), accompanied by Dr Mac ( Tammy Macintosh), Aunt Prudence ( Miriam Margolyes) and Dot ( Ashleigh Cummings), is soon on the scene.
The group has travelled to a countryside chalet in the middle of winter, where the homeowners are holding a snowy “Christmas in July” celebration, in order for Aunt Prudence to finalise the sale of an abandoned gold mine owned by her late husband.
The mine was closed after a disastrous cave- in a decade earlier claimed the lives of a band of workers and it quickly becomes clear the tragedy has left a few lingering scars.
So motives abound at the chalet and there are enough sideways glances and suspicious expressions to indicate anyone could be responsible for the Christmas- tree electrocution ... and the rising body count once Miss Fisher and her friends show up.
Even Detective Inspector Jack Robinson ( Nathan Page) and his young right- hand man Constable Hugh Collins ( Hugo Johnstone- Burt) arriving as reinforcements doesn’t put a stop to things and, with the chalet snowedin and the roads iced over, it’s up to our fearless crimefighters to solve the mystery and save the day.
Of course, even with the chalet’s refrigerated cool room rapidly filling with bodies, there’s still time for a little flirtatious banter between the wellmatched Phryne and Jack; when Phryne cheekily asks Jack if he’s scared as the two confront a dangerous situation, Jack smartly replies, “Only of you”.
The odd line wouldn’t be out of place uttered by CSI: Miami’s Horatio Caine.
For example, when it’s discovered one of the killer’s victims has been dispatched with a blow to the head from a sculpture named The Kiss, Phryne is quick to point out, “In this case, the kiss of death”.
Ah, but Miss Fisher can get away with the odd ridiculous one- liner, mainly due to Essie Davis’s confident, captivating performance.
There’s no word as yet as to whether Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries will return for a third season, although if the fans and followers organising petitions and lobbying the ABC have their way, there most certainly will be. Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries: Murder Under the Mistletoe, ABC1, Sunday, 7.30pm