Earthly Delights is a detective story. The protagonist Corinna Chapman is a straightforward woman who runs her own successful bakery. Like a lot of detective stories, there are a series of mysteries to be solved. Who is the stalker who is threatening all the owners of Corinna's unit block? Is Corinna's new bloke Daniel more than he seems? Why has a junkie ended up dead in Corinna's back yard?
Whilst I can tell you the main mysteries that Corinna was faced with in Earthly Delights, I must admit that for me, months later, the plot is pretty forgettable.
Perhaps some of the plot got lost in amoungst the larger than life characters. In Earthly Delights we have a baker, a dominatrix, a Wiccan, a professor, an old married couple, a social worker helping the homeless, computer geeks and stupid young girls. Although this provided great variety, and people are certainly varied, it still struck me as a bit too far fetched that you find so many unusual individuals all living within a stones throw of each other and all being involved in one way or another with each other. What else struck me about the characters is that even though each appeared so unique on the surface, somehow or other they all feel so cliched. I felt like I could just tick of the cliches as I went, the hippy witch, the Gen Y girls obsessed with their phones and clothes, the handsome do gooder and so on and so forth.
What I appreciated even less than the cliched characters... were the cats. Corinna Chapman is a cat person. And I am not. I must admit I heard far too much about her 3(?) cats and what they got up to.
What I did appreciate was that Greenwood was certainly trying to make a point about drug use and homelessness in Australian society, and how people who live with these issues are viewed by the broader population. As someone who works with people like this I could identify to a certain extent with the way in which those people were portrayed. Greenwood was able to make her point that sometimes people fall into situations that they can't get themselves out of, and sometimes (only sometimes mind you) some help and compassion can help those people make some positive change in their lives.
Earthly Delights is a harmless and enjoyable read. Fun read... but nothing special. I suppose it didn't help that I read it straight after having read The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency by Alexander McCall Smith. They were, despite their different settings, similar in terms of having a strong female protagonist with a variety of mysteries to solve, and her own personal history to come to terms with. And yet The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency delivered this in a unique manner without any cliches. And, at heart, I am still a Phryne Fisher girl when it comes to Kerry Greenwood.