Phryne and her “pet” Ling Chung take a vacation to the Australian countryside with their manservant, Li Pen, and ever faithful secretary/maid Dot. Almost at their destination, when Phryne hears a gun shot and a maid comes running out of the woods in fear for her life. Phryne faces down racism, a massive amounts of secrets, death threats, and a murder all while being stuck in a house due to a rising river. Phryne is at her intellectual best, as her adventures this time are more mental puzzles and helping an heiress find her own way in life than flying planes and dodging falling sandbags meant to kill her. The book has a Cast List and Staff List in the start, which was incredibly helpful in trying to remember who this large cast is and what exactly they do. I normally keep a list of characters with notes to help me try and figure out who might be the murderer, however this time there were so many secrets it was too hard to do.
Secrets were kept by everyone at Cave House, including the staff and so many were being blackmailed by one of the other guests it really was a guessing game. The host was not taking things seriously, and Phryne finally figured out why (hint, hint, a secret about a secret). Lin Chung is there to both enjoy the countryside and Phryne, which means he ends up helping Phryne when the murderer shows himself and threatens the group. It was nice to see Lin back, as it was hinted by his grandmother in the previous book the fling with Phryne was fine, but when obligation to marry was due Phryne must remove herself from Lin’s life.
Dot proves herself useful in more ways than that of just a maid/secretary. Dot is able to provide information, insight, and knows when Phryne is in trouble and forces people to search for her. Dot may not approve of Phryne’s lack of modesty, but she approves of Lin and his bodyguard/manservant Li.
I feel any description of the characters would be hard to do since I cannot promise that I would be able to accurately describe them without giving away secrets. Instead of my usual cast list, I will strongly encourage you to read this book and remember everyone has at least one secret. Happy reading.