|Essie Davis in the title role from "Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries," available on Netflix.|
As a girl I often spent the days following Christmas or my birthday devouring the Nancy Drew books I received as gifts. In those days the Pasadena Library System felt such pulp was beneath their dignity and did not carry Nancy or any other popular, and apparently trashy, series. Ownership and trading was our only option.
Then last week Lisa Hoffman, an adventurous and reliable source for stuff I don't know about, mentioned the luminous Essie Davis, her "homegrown horror film, The Babadook," and the Australian tv series, Miss Fisher Mysteries. Netflix-available, we began watching with Season One, Episode One that night. I enjoy the programs just as I did those blue-bound volumes so very many years ago.
Set in the 1920s with lavish fashion, interiors and vehicles that let you know where you are without feeling like a documentary, each story took me back to the scenes of earlier crimes, as I had started reading Nancy before she was modernized. My girl detective drove a roadster and appeared on the colorful dust jackets in sensible yet stylish garb of an era very close to the flapper age. Miss Fisher is, of course, more mature and considerably less chaste than Miss Drew (my son's frame of reference was Veronica Mars) and all the more appealing for it.
Even though I've managed to find a low-key footpath through Christmas, I still experience a bit of let-down when the chocolate gobbling has to stop and it seems that one needs to resume some version of regular life. Miss Fisher adds the right amount of fizz to an outlook grown a bit too flat. It was also abnormally cold for Southern California this past week. At least we in the San Gabriel Valley didn't have snow in our yards thought there was frost on the roofs. Any tolerance I once had for cold has vanished (how lucky I live in Los Angeles and not Billings, Montana) and I find myself longing for summer which is still but a distant hope. Without central heat, this is the land of many layers and of following the southern sunlight as though I were producing cholorophyll.
We have the return of "Downton Abbey" and "The Good Wife" to help see us through any January doldrums. As they have been joined by the handsomely-crafted Australian mysteries we may, with the addition of rededicating several hours a day to writing and drawing, find a crumb-trail back to warmer days (my mind may be trying to hibernate) without a complete loss of zest. Nancy Drew always was a favorite winter chum.