Monday, November 14, 2011

Kerry Greenwood's Corinna Chapman books

I've been on a Kerry Greenwood reading binge lately. It started when I went to SheKilda, the Sisters in Crime conference a few weeks ago, and browsing through the bookstore, I spotted a series of hers I hadn't read. I've been reading her Phryne Fisher books since the first one was published in 1989 — and there are currently 19 in the series. (And by the way, I'm interviewing Kerry over at Word Wenches right now, and she's giving away a book to someone who leaves a comment.)

But I hadn't read the Corinna Chapman series at all. So I bought the first one at the conference... and ended up buying and devouring all 6 in the series.

They're cosy contemporary mysteries set in the heart of Melbourne — in the laneways/arcades area of central Melbourne, an area I happen to be very familiar with, especially because I've taught at the CAE and also done some courses there myself. The main character, Corinna Chapman is an accountant turned baker, and her shop is on this very lane.
Corinna lives above the shop in an elegant eccentrically designed Roman-themed apartment building, a lot like the one below.
It's a very foodie-friendly area, with all kinds of small coffee shops and restaurants, all of which are pretty good because the area has so many eateries the competition is fierce. Apparently these days it's also become a place for tourists to visit and take photos of the vibrant grafitti that abounds in any unused space. They also eat and shop.
There's also a wide variety of choices, for eating and shopping -- from the funky little places like the ones pictured above, to the timeless and elegant Block Arcade, which has been a popular destination for shoppers and eaters since the 1880s.
Part of the ritual of coming up to the city from the country when I was a kid  — if you'd been good — was having morning or afternoon tea at the Hopetoun Tea Rooms — still a gorgeous place to visit and just as popular now as it was when it opened in 1892. You can see why — and there are more delights inside...
So it's the perfect setting for mysteries that also feature yummy food (it's not recommended that you read the series while dieting) a cast of quirky and interesting other characters, a gorgeous ongoing romance, and some delightful cats.

A friend of mine who lives in another state altogether loves this Kerry Greenwood series, too. "For me, it's got a very Melbourne vibe," she told me, "but it might not ring as true to a Melbournian."
 But it does to this Melbournian, completely. The books are a lot of fun in themselves, but you don't need to know the place to enjoy the books
Though I have to admit it's fun knowing the places where Corinna and her Daniel visit. It's a rare pleasure to read a book set in a place you know well. 
What about you — have you read any books set in your home town?