Drama, Historical fiction, Mystery

Murder Under Her Skin by Stephen Spotswood

This is a highly engrossing series. It veers a little away from my more traditional historical fiction reads, which have a sleuthing duo, but they have happier lives (or at least histories).
I would not recommend reading this without having read the first. WillowJean has had a non-traditional upbringing, and in this installment we get to see more of her past than we previously did. In the first case, we see how Lillian Pentecost and Will met and how they built up their own pattern to work as a team and crack cases (although we only focus on one main one). This book begins in a court with the culmination of one such investigation. It is only when they wrap up that Will hears from her old circus master, who informs her that an old ally of hers, the tattooed lady is dead.
Fueled by grief and memories, Will finds herself getting involved in the case like she wouldn’t have otherwise. The case is very complicated; the inner workings of the circus are highlighted, as are the shifting dynamics between a physically slower Lillian and Will’s feeling of being more in control. This last bit is an illusion, as we are soon to see.
I really enjoy the book’s tone, which surprises me because the characters are dark and focus on the rougher parts of life in general. I found the period entertaining in its own way. It did feel like it was from a different era. The dialogues and interpersonal relationships are the backbones of this mystery. I did not suspect the twists in the narrative, even if I did guess one aspect of the plot. It is the kind of book which has cemented my impressions of the series, and I recommend it to those who find the blurb interesting (or this review!). Given a chance, I will be reading the following books in the series as well.
I received an ARC thanks to NetGalley and the publishers, but the review is entirely based on my own reading experience.

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