|This isn't Phryne; she's more glamorous.|
The television series is actually based on a series of books. AN ENTIRE SERIES!!!
(Okay. Deep breath.)
You know how I love me a good series.
Miss Fisher is Phyrne (pronounced Fry-nee) Fisher, a titled, wealthy woman who dresses well, flies a plane, drives her own car, and rubs elbows with the masses. She does all this in the late 1920s. She's probably about 50 years ahead of her time, but she's clever and observant and puts her talents to good use. She, as the series title suggests, solves murder mysteries.
Cocaine Blues, the first in the series, is actually a not-quite murder mystery. Phryne first travels from the U.K. to Australia to investigate a mysterious illness that affects the daughter of an acquaintance. The illness seems life-threatening at times but oddly absent at others. In investigating this not-yet-death, Phryne identifies and arranges for the arrest of an illegal abortionist who rapes the women that come to him before he'll perform the back-alley procedure, meets some displaced Russian ballet dancers, and takes down the head of a cocaine ring. That makes her sound rather busy, but most of the story lines are intertwined, so it's not disjointed or distracting.
I started the series expecting something like Carola Dunn's Daisy Dalrymple mysteries or Elizabeth Peter's Amelia Peabody mysteries. Both of these series are based on modern, intelligent women in historical settings. Both Daisy and Amelia speak their minds within the genteel, cultural norms of their times. Phryne is also a modern, intelligent woman, but she pretty much breaks all the rules about speech, adventure and sex. After I adjusted my mindset, I just settled in and enjoyed the series.
For the mystery fans out there, I strongly recommend Kerry Greenwood's Cocaine Blues.