Series Review: Kerry Greenwood’s Corinna Chapman novels

When I need a break from brooding Scandinavian detectives and blood-curdling serial killers I like a light, fun ‘cosy’ but, of late, I’ve had trouble finding ones I enjoy. However, earlier this year I did discover a great, Australian series that has the humour, quirky characters and decent plots that I enjoy. So far I’ve read 3 of the 4 Corinna Chapman series by Kerry Greenwood.

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Title: Earthly Delightsearthly-delights

Publisher:Allen & Unwin (2004)

ISBN: 978-1-74114-236-5

Melbourne baker Corinna Chapman and some of the other residents of her apartment building start receiving threatening notes. Next there’s a recovering junkie and a dark-eyed investigator/soup kitchen ‘heavy’ on her doorstep. And all of this before they day’s first muffins are baked.

I read this in June of 08 as part of my self-imposed challenge to discover new (to me) Australian authors but having never warmed to Kerry Greenwood’s more famous mystery series I approached Earthly Delights with a mixture of trepidation and anticipation. Fortunately I found no need for the trepidation. The characters, plot and writing are all equally solid and I was hooked by page five. This is the first of the series and accordingly takes some time to introduce the protagonist and her intriguing supporting cast. The inclusion of oddities such as a white which, a dominatrix, a vampire sub-culture and a Roman apartment building in modern-day Melbourne could have been a disaster but Greenwood has made them all, including the building and the city itself, fully-rounded characters rather than the caricatures a lesser author might have created.

Chapman’s involvement in the crimes that form the basis of the plot seems far more natural and credible than is the case with many amateur sleuth stories. This natural feel is enhanced by the quick, dry humour of the main character and just enough slightly left-of-centre social commentary to keep things really interesting. All in all this was an unexpected delight and I can’t wait to read the next one in the series.

My rating: 4/5

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heavenly-pleasuresTitle: Heavenly Pleasures
Publisher:Allen & Unwin (2005)
ISBN: 978-1-74114-512-0

In this outing there’s an odd religious group preying on Melbourne’s most vulnerable people and one of Corinna’s fellow St Kilda food sellers is having her produce poisoned. 

I read this one about 2-3 weeks after Earthly Delights. Perhaps for that reason or possibly something else I didn’t have quite the same reaction to this one, although I liked it a lot. I think it would have been better to wait longer and give myself a chance to miss the characters which is something I do with all series now.

Anyway, the writing is still great quality, the humour that I enjoyed from the first book is still very firmly evident and the cast of characters are an enjoyable bunch of people to spend a few hours with. In summary a light, well-written escape from reality.

My rating 3/5

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Title: Devil’s Food

Publisher:Allen & Unwin (2006)

ISBN: 978-1-74114-710-0

This time out Corinna is forced to search for her lost, but not much loved, hippie father while sorting out if someone is poisoning the young slimmers of inner Melbourne.

It’s not exactly hard-boiled crime fiction but it does, in its way, tackle some of the seedier points of living in a big, modern city, although aided by liberal doses of wit and fun and the occasional biting social comment. Greenwood’s large cast of characters are deliciously exotic and quirky although she provides enough detail to make them realistic too. They form a big, odd, wonderful family based in and around an intriguing apartment building. I thoroughly enjoyed snuggling under a blanket on a cold, wintry afternoon with this book, which even physically is gorgeous in all it’s shiny pinkness, while pondering whether I could move into one of the spare apartments to join in the fun.

My rating 4/5

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Title: Trick or Treat

Publisher:Allen & Unwin (2008)

ISBN: 978-1-74175-000-3

I’ve got this one on my TBR shelves but am saving it up for a reading emergency. I’ll add my review to this post when I’ve read the book

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5 Responses to Series Review: Kerry Greenwood’s Corinna Chapman novels

  1. Marg says:

    I am working my way through the Phryne Fisher series, and then I am planning to start reading this series next!


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