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The Green Mill Murder: 01/02/17

The Green Mill Murder by Kerry Greenwood

The Green Mill Murder by Kerry Greenwood is the fifth book in the Phryne Fisher series. A murder during a dance contest ultimately leads to a hunt for a missing ANZAC veteran, hiding away in the Australian Alps.

As with the other books that were adapted for the Miss Fisher Investigates television series, there are a lot of gaping discrepancies between the book and episode. It's really difficult to not compare and contrast the two.

The television series unfolds its stories based on two motivations: character building of its core characters (Phryne, Dot, Jack, Collins, and made up Aunt Prudence), and to further the dramatic plot. That means that most of the work is done by the four core characters and that the plot is edited and distances are shortened to make dramatic rescues by said core characters possible.

In the editing process, criminals have their character sheets so vastly altered to give them completely different motives for their crimes. Some criminals are completely erased from the story, or given personality transplants so that they are no longer criminals, thus leaving huge gaping holes in the plot.

That's the case here. In the original, the murder at the Green Mill leads Phryne fairly quickly to realize her date for the night, Charlie, isn't the sort of person she thinks he is. His disappearance in the book is suspicious because he is violent and unhinged. In neither version, though, is he the Green Mill murderer.

In the television series, women are usually more angelic than their book counterparts except at times when the plot can't be sanitized any more. The mother of Phyrne's dance partner is portrayed as a nervous woman in both versions, though in the book, it's a complete put on and Phryne knows it. The mother isn't an innocent woman mourning the potential loss of a second son; she is a manipulative, abusive, horrible person, and the trigger for the third act in the book that is excised from the television episode.

The second half of the book (and really only a coda in the episode) is Phryne's trip to the Australian Alps. Though the names are kept in the episode, travel there is shortened to a quick, dramatic drive, rather than a multiple day flight through dangerous terrain and weather (low visibility / freezing weather) by plane.

Phryne's skills as a pilot are removed from the television episode. Maybe it was to save location shooting costs. Maybe it was to give another opportunity to show off Phryne's car. I don't know. But I loved looking over Phryne's shoulder as she planned her route, and carefully executed it.

Where Phryne ends up is rural, mountainous, and dangerous. It's a place where one needs to keep their wits about them to survive. It's a quiet place perfect for a man recovering from shell shock to live out his days. It's a place that needs time to be described and a place that needs time to get to.

And then there's the closing act, up there on the side of a mountain involving rugged terrain, jealousy, sibling hatred, years of festering abuse, and a wombat.

So it goes. Every book from the Kerry Greenwood I read, the less I like the television series.

Five stars

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