B O O K R E V I E W : Under Her Skin by Stephen Spotswood

Thanks to @doubledaybooks for my gifted copy of Murder Under Her Skin by Stephen Spotswood, which is out now!

Shortly after the Hart & Halloway’s Traveling Circus and Sideshow arrived in her hometown, Stoppard, Virginia, The Amazing Tattooed Woman died from a stab wound to her back. Willowjean “Will” Parker had been friends with the Tattooed Woman, Ruby Donner, when she’d been part of the circus some years before. Even worse, Police Chief Thomas Whiddle has arrested Will’s mentor and teacher, knife-thrower Valentin Kalishenko.

When Big Bob Halloway, owner and ringmaster, asks Will and her boss Lillian Pentecost to help exonerate Kalishenko, the two private detectives travel south where they are encouraged to leave by the Chief and where people rarely part with their secrets.

Although the book is set in 1946 and borrows many writing conventions of the time, attention to social issues and depth of character development elevate it beyond its forebears. The book considered Ruby’s tragic past, life as part of the circus, Kalishenko’s uncertain future, the financial woes of the circus, and the criminal underbelly of Stoppard, leading to surprising revelations.

This, the second Pentecost and Parker Mystery after Murder Favors the Dead, is for anyone who enjoys a smart historical detective story, especially one led by two strong but very different women.

I have the three tattoos visible in this picture plus one on my upper right leg and one on my back. My eyeliner is also tattooed!

PRO TIP: If you are doing the Popsugar Reading Challenge 2022, this fulfills the prompt, “A book with a protagonist who uses a mobility aid.”

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