The Avid Reader
, March 18, 2017
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Blood and Circuses by Kerry Greenwood is the sixth book in the Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries. Phryne Fisher is home alone on a Sunday, and she is bored. Then the doorbell rings and she finds Samson, Alan Lee and their friends on her doorstep. They need Phryne’s assistance with problems that are plaguing Farrell’s Circus and Wild Beast Show. If the person behind these nasty incidents is not found, the circus may go under. Phryne agrees to go undercover as a trick rider if she can learn the routine in the next week. Meanwhile, Constable Tommy Harris responded to a call at Mrs. Witherspoon’s boarding house on Brunswick Street. Mr. Christopher was found dead inside his room. Miss Amelia Parkes is arrested for his murder, but Tommy does not believe Miss Parkes committed the crime. Detective Inspector Jack Robinson is of a similar mind, but they need proof. Phryne with the help of her companion, Dot gets ready to join the circus as Fern Williams. Phryne needs clothes that are more aligned with her new station as a performer (no silks or satins for Fern). Phryne learns how to do tricks on a horse and is soon ready to set off with the others for Farrell’s next performance. Tommy is out at night trying to get intel and quickly lands in hot water. Thankfully, Lizard Elsie comes to his rescue, patches him up and returns him to his police superiors. It turns out that the problems besetting the circus and the murder of Mr. Christopher are tied together. Jack quickly sets out for Farrell’s latest location and hopes that he is not too late to save Phryne. See if Phryne makes it back home to Dot, Mr. & Mrs. Butler, and her extended family in Blood and Circuses.
Blood and Circuses is nicely written, but it is different from the prior books in the series. Phryne is not quite herself in this edition. I missed Phryne’s engaging personality. She seemed more subdued and contemplative. I was, though, happy to see more of Jack in this novel. What I enjoy most is the interactions between Phryne and Jack. They are always fun and witty together. When you first start reading the story, there are two different storylines. They are eventually tied together and it all makes sense. It can be a little confusing in the beginning especially with the introduction of the two gang factions (Roy Boys and the Brunnies). The pace is sluggish as well (which always makes a book feel longer than it is). Figuring out the identity of the killer is not rocket science. I wish it had been more complicated (like the storylines). If you have watched the show that relates to this book, you will find it different in many regards (there are similarities). In a way, I preferred the show (I found it more entertaining). There is extreme violence and intimate relations included in Blood and Circuses. Phryne finds herself with two lovers in this book. I give Blood and Circuses 3.5 out of 5 stars. There is circus lingo that I found difficult to interpret. I did find the second half of the book more entertaining the first part (as the separate storyline tie together and there are fewer people to keep track of). While I did not find Blood and Circuses as enjoyable as the first five stories in the stories, I will definitely keep reading the series.