Murder Under Her Skin by Stephen Spotswood is the second in what now can officially be called a series. Featuring former circus worker Willowjean (Will) Parker and her boss, famed detective Lillian Pentecost, the stories take place in post World War II America.
Will’s friend and former circus co-worker Ruby Donner is found murdered, stabbed to death with the a knife belonging to Valentin Kalishenko, the circus’s extraordinary knife thrower. It doesn’t take long before the police arrest Kalishenko since he seems to be the obvious choice.
When Will hears about the troubles at her former place of employment, she and Lillian make their way to the Virginia town currently sponsoring the circus. She is certain that Valentin is innocent and determined to learn the truth. While she is welcomed heartily by all her circus friends, it isn’t long before she starts suspecting that not everyone — in fact is anyone? — telling the truth. Everyone seems to have something to hide.
What’s more, the townspeople also seem suspicious of the two outsiders who are butting into police business, despite the fact that the small police department seems unable to get past their certainty of Valentin’s guilt.
These books are fun to read. Will is an upbeat wisecracking narrator. Her love for her boss Lillian is touching. The author creates the atmosphere of a Dashiell Hammett novel, but with clever twists and turns along the way.
These novels make me want to chew gum! Highly recommend.