Cover Image: Murder Under Her Skin

Murder Under Her Skin

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Member Reviews

Willowjean Parker and her boss, the prickly and brilliant Ms. Pentecost, are back for their second adventure. They are definitely not your usual cozy mystery combo. Willowjean split from an abusive home as a teenager and literally ran off and joined the circus -- where she acquired some unusual skills including knife throwing, acrobatics, and an ability to differentiate the truth from lies. Ms. Pentecost, who possesses Sherlockian logical abilities, has multiple sclerosis. The diagnosis is a ticking time bomb as they are both aware. Pentecost chafes when people watch and worry but she also usually honors her physical limits.

They receive a call for help from Will's old circus boss after one of the performers is stabbed to death and another circus employee is held for murder. They travel to Virginia where the circus has been performing and discover all kinds of threads that lead to and from the victim. The victim was originally from the small town where the crime occurred - how could that be coincidence? She was known for offering assistance, advice, and money to fellow troupers with personal problems. The circus itself is in financial trouble, surviving only because of a mysterious anonymous benefactor.

It's entertaining to spend time with Will and her boss and witness their sometimes sharp and acerbic relationship but also their strong loyalty to one another. The circus setting adds to the interest factor. Thanks to the publisher and to Net Galley for providing me with an ARC in exchange for my honest review.
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Willowjean Parker is a former carnie turned detective's assistant. So when the tattooed lady gets shanked and the knife-thrower gets arrested for the deed, ringmaster Big Bob turns to Will and her employer, well-known detective Lillian Pentecost for help.

This is the second book in the Pentecost & Parker series, but if you haven't read the first book yet  (Fortune Favors the Dead), don't worry. You don't need to have read the first to enjoy the second! This is a quick read, enjoyable from start to finish. Through it, we're introduced to all the quirky characters of a mid-century carnival and given a view into what it might have been like to be a pantsuit-wearing "lady detective" in the 1940s. I did not see the ending coming!
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Women detectives in the 1940s and a travelling carnival? Yes please! Willowjean "Willa" Parker used to be in a travelling circus, so when her friend Ruby is murdered and Willa's mentor is accused of the crime, Willa and her boss Lillian Pentecost travel to Stoppard, VA to investigate.  Tangles with an arsonist and a resistant local sheriff, romance with a local duputy, and an uncomfortable reunion with her former circus family complicate their efforts.  Details about circus life add texture to an already intriguing mystery.  I definitely want to read more in the series!
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The second book of this series is just as good as the first.  The dynamic duo of Lillian Pentecost and Willodean (Will) Parker are back on the hunt for a killer and this one is personal because it involves Will's old circus family.  Not only was the victim a friend but the main (and only) suspect is another circus performer and friend.  Small town secrets lead Parker and Pentecost headfirst into danger in the main ring.  This smartly written crime noir is full of snarky wit and perfect for fans of mysteries best portrayed by Bogey and Bacall.  It is a Mickey Spillane style whodunnit  with smart female detectives who never play the femme fatale.  My thanks to the publisher for the advance copy.
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As a second book in a series, I really thought these characters would grow on me but I ended up skipping the second half of the book to just read the last chapter to see who the murderer was. It seemed to drag on. Also, it might have something to do with the murder victim having my last name. It was kind of jarring every time I saw Ruby Donner in a sentence.
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Murder Mystery. Will's new job has her returning to Fredericksburg, Virginia, and to her old haunting ground, circus life. In fact, it was the circus that saved her (at least, initially). She left home at 15; she was taken in by Ruby, the tattooed lady, who was just murdered. And they had the wrong person in jail -- at least she hopes that's the case! And, while Will and her genius boss are on the trail of solving this knife-in-the-back murder, she meets Joe. Police officer, veteran...maybe more? Hmmm.
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The second book in this series and I am still impressed. These are two kick ass females, ready to take on any man who dares think less of them. I am also continually pleased that they talk about MS, but don’t make everything only about that. The mysteries were engaging and unfolded in a way that kept me captivated. Some red herrings, a little love, and a satisfying conclusion. And it was great to catch up with the case from book 1!
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Totally engaging.  I couldn't put it down and read it in one day.  The author draws you in and keeps you captivated throughout the entire book.
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When an old coworker of Willowjean Parker's (Ruby the Amazing Tattooed Woman) turns up dead she and her boss Lillian Pentecost hotfoot it (they take a train) to Virginia to the H&H Traveling Circus.  Circus folks are like family and like most families there is friction in some parts.  Valentin Kalishenko Will's old mentor is fingered for the crime but did he do it?  Will and Lillian are on the case.  This was an interesting historical mystery that was riveting from beginning to end.  I truly enjoyed getting to meet all the characters and getting a glimpse into the past.  There are lost of suspects and I kept guessing from beginning to end.  Will and Lillian Pentecost are still engaging and I thoroughly enjoyed their relationship, plus it gave a little more of a look into Will's past life and where she came from.  All in all a fantastic read.
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