Blood and Circuses by Kerry Greenwood
This is book six in a series with Phryne Fisher is the protagonist. To be honest, I have not read the first five books. The only reason I got this is because Audible had a sale, this book was on sale, I enjoy the Australian TV production based on these books and thought it would be nice to listen to a book the show was based on.
First off, I am giving this book and Explicit rating. There are Explicit sex scenes and extremely strong language throughout the book.
As stated previously, I found the TV show before I found the book. I was struck by what I felt was a rather big difference between the Phryne Fisher of the book and the Phryne Fisher of the TV show.
Book Phryne seems a bit more unsure of herself. She pushes herself past her fears but she seemed to lack the confidence that I had come to expect based on the TV show. She is a “modern” woman of the 1920’s, independent, smart, uses birth control (*gasp* scandalous! for the time), and uses her skills as an amateur detective.
She is asked by a former lover to help solve a mystery at the circus. To gain entrance she becomes a performer. I found this portion a stretch to believe since it meant that she had to learn to be a trick rider in a very short period of time. Being the amazing Phryne she is able to do it. My cynical side doubts that it would actually be possible to learn as quickly as that. It’s trick riding for crying out loud!
Once in the circus she delves into the mystery of who killed Christopher/Christine, the Hermaphrodite in the show. Along the way the reader is introduced to the life of the traveling circus in the 1920’s. The side show “freaks” who feel accepted in the circus when they are rejected elsewhere. The social structure of the circus (it’s not acceptable to consort with clowns). And other aspects of circus life.
The book brings up social issues that are still alive today. Open relationships, Homosexuality, prostitution, drug addiction, bigotry, to name a few.
Add to this a mix of Australian street crime and gang activity that is somehow tied to the circus. But how?! Well, read the book. ;D
If, like me, you’ve seen the TV series first, just know that the books will be different than the shows. While the books are apparently stand alone mysteries that can be read in any order, it would help to start at the beginning and read them in the order they were written. At least, that’s how others seem to feel.
For me, Blood and Circuses was interesting for the historical aspect. I know very little about Australian history, or even Australia really, so it was fun to read this book. I can’t testify that the book was well researched since I don’t know that, but it does feel real in the way that it was written.
While I enjoyed the story, the prude in me does wish that the language and sex scenes weren’t there. If those things don’t bother you then you might enjoy Blood and Circuses.
Kindle: Blood and Circuses: Phryne Fisher #6 (Phryne Fisher Mysteries)
Paperback: Blood and Circuses
ibook: Blood and Circuses – Kerry Greenwood