CHRIST­MAS BELLE

PHRYNE FISHER’S MERRY MYS­TERY

The Gold Coast Bulletin - Play Magazine - - FRONT PAGE - GUY DAVIS

T his is a hol­i­day – must you find mur­der ev­ery­where?

Such is the ques­tion Dr El­iz­a­beth Macmil­lan asks her friend, the el­e­gant sleuth Phryne Fisher in a spe­cial Christ­mas-themed episode of Miss Fisher’s Mur­der Mys­ter­ies.

``You know very well that mur­der finds me,’’ the de­light­ful Phryne replies.

It’s easy to un­der­stand why this ABC se­ries, wrap­ping up its se­cond sea­son on Sun­day with an episode called Mur­der Un­der

the Mistle­toe, has struck such a chord with view­ers both here and abroad.

De­spite var­i­ous poor un­for­tu­nates meet­ing un­timely demises each episode, it’s com­fort­ing rather than con­fronting that jus­tice is

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.

It’s es­pe­cially so with the se­ries’ Christ­mas episode, which gets off to a shock­ing start – lit­er­ally – when one fel­low’s ef­forts to get his Christ­mas tree lights glow­ing re­sults in his elec­tro­cu­tion.

Of course, foul play is in­volved – a hand is seen sneak­ing into frame and tam­per­ing with the wiring.

So it’s lucky Miss Fisher (Essie Davis), ac­com­pa­nied by Dr Mac (Tammy Mac­in­tosh), Aunt Pru­dence (Miriam Mar­golyes) and Dot (Ash­leigh Cum­mings), are so quickly on the scene.

The group has trav­elled to a coun­try­side chalet in the mid­dle of winter, where the home­own­ers are cel­e­brat­ing a snowy Christ­mas in July.

There, Aunt Pru­dence plans to fi­nalise the sale of an aban­doned gold mine owned by her late hus­band. The mine closed af­ter a dis­as­trous cave-in a decade ear­lier that claimed the lives of a band of work­ers. It seems the tragedy has left 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 af­ter De­tec­tive In­spec­tor Jack Robin­son (Nathan Page) and his young right-hand man Con­sta­ble

OF COURSE FOUL PLAY IS IN­VOLVED – A HAND IS SEEN SNEAK­ING INTO FRAME, TAM­PER­ING WITH WIRING

Hugh Collins (Hugo John­stoneBurt) ar­rive as re­in­force­ments, it doesn’t put a stop to things and, with the chalet snowed-in and the roads iced over, it’s up to our fear­less crime­fight­ers to solve the mys­tery and save the day.

And even with the chalet’s re­frig­er­ated cool room rapidly fill­ing with bod­ies, there’s time for some flir­ta­tious ban­ter be­tween the well-matched Phryne and Jack. Cheeky Phryne asks if he’s scared. Jack smartly replies: “Only of you’’.

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 and cap­ti­vat­ing per­for­mance.

There’s no word yet whether Miss Fisher will re­turn for a third sea­son, though if fans and fol­low­ers or­gan­is­ing pe­ti­tions and lob­by­ing the ABC have their way, there most cer­tainly will be.

Essie Davies in Miss Fisher’s Mur­der Mys­ter­ies

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