Murder Under Her Skin by Stephen Spotswood – review

Published by Wildfire

Publication date – 21 July 2022

Source – review copy

New York, 1946: The last time Will Parker let a case get personal, she walked away with a broken face, a bruised ego, and the solemn promise never again to let her heart get in the way of her job. But she called Hart and Halloway’s Travelling Circus and Sideshow home for five years, and Ruby Donner, the circus’s tattooed ingenue, was her friend. To make matters worse the prime suspect is Valentin Kalishenko, the man who taught Will everything she knows about putting a knife where it needs to go.

To uncover the real killer and keep Kalishenko from a date with the electric chair, Will and Ms. Pentecost join the circus in sleepy Stoppard, Virginia, where the locals like their cocktails mild, the past buried, and big-city detectives not at all. The two swiftly find themselves lost in a funhouse of lies as Will begins to realize that her former circus compatriots aren’t playing it straight, and that her murdered friend might have been hiding a lot of secrets beneath all that ink.

Dodging fistfights, firebombs, and flying lead, Will puts a lot more than her heart on the line in the search of the truth. Can she find it before someone stops her ticker for good?

Willowjean Parker once ran away to the circus. It saved her life. There she found friends, skills and a family. Now she has a different family of sorts. Lillian Pentecost, detective. She has forged a new path. But when she receives a telegram from her old boss, she finds herself back under the big top. Her friend has been murdered and her old partner is the chief suspect. Pentecost and Parker have their work cut out discovering what really happened, before the killer tries to stop them permanently.

Roll up! Roll up! Mysterious men, even more mysterious women. Murder, intrigue and scandal. Willowjean Parker and Lillian Pentecost run away to the circus to clear the name of Will’s old mentor, accused of murdering a fellow circus performer.

The setting of the book was perfect. Small town secrets collide with the close knit circus community, meaning twice as many suspects, twice as many secrets and trouble for Will and Lillian.

From the first page I was drawn into the story. The characters are vividly portrayed as are the locations. It’s easy to conjure in the mind’s eye the sights and smells of the circus, the shouts of the stall holders, the laughs and cheers from the audience. It’s just as easy to imagine the small town, the curtains twitching, the small stores and local police station.

For Will, the return to the circus unearths mixed emotions. She is worried about Val, sad for the loss of Ruby, excited to see her old friends and slowly realises she is no longer a part of their world.

There are a multitude of suspects, more emerging as the duo dig deeper into the case. The clues are there though, allowing the reader to deduce who the killer is before it’s revealed.

A detective duo who work well together, an intriguing storyline and an evocative setting. I loved every minute of it.

Recommended.

One Comment Add yours

  1. What a brilliant cover!

    Like

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