Blood and Circuses

Blood and Circuses: A Phryne Fisher Mystery by Kerry Greenwood

Phryne Fisher is bored with her comfortable and fabulous life, which is perfect timing when an old “pet” comes and seeks her help.  Phryne agrees to help Alan find out who is sabotaging the circus he works along side.  Detective Jack Robinson is investigating a murder of a sideshow performer and his case and desire to keep a gang war out of his jurisdiction crosses paths with Phryne’s undercover alias Fern.  The characters in this series become so much more in depth and the side characters are appreciated in so many new ways in this story.  The story is neatly wrapped up at the end with no  lose ends and Phryne is carried away to her plush lifestyle once again.  The greatest part about this story is that it is so different and new characters are everywhere, because Phryne is not in her normal routine.  Phryne being Phryne makes do, learns about herself, learns new skills, and prevails as always.

Character List/Book Summary:

Phryne Fisher = goes undercover as Fern at Farrell’s circus to help try and figure out who is forcing the string of bad luck on the circus, learns how to ride a horse and do tricks on the horse

Mrs. Witherspoon = widow, always has high tea on Sundays, rents room to respectable people

Mr. Christopher = circus performer, dead with room locked & bolted from the inside, both “both” was engaged to Molly

Miss Minton = behind in her rent to Mrs. Witherspoon, a dancer, having an affair with a theatrical producer

Robert Sheridan = magician, stays at Mrs. Witherspoon’s instead of with the circus, police suspect he might be involved in the death of Mr. Christopher, does not have a good reputation among the circus people

Miss Amelia Parkes = stage name, killed her husband, saves Constable Harris, weapon was found in her room, but police don’t think she did it.  Mrs Fantoccini (real name)

Constable Tommy Harris = discovers Mr. Christopher’s body, is saved by Miss Parkes, does not think Miss Parkes did it, and tries to find evidence that she is innocent, gets shot and saved by Lizard Elsie

Detective Inspector “Jack” Robinson = investigating Mr. Christopher’s murder, a gang murder, and warns “Fern” about a conspiracy plot that she unknowingly walked into when she went undercover in the circus.  Upon realizing that Phryne is in over her head and will need help he takes several of his men in plain clothes to the circus to save her.

Sergeant Terence Grossmith = huge, loved Brunswick St. did not want a promotion because he didn’t want to leave, knows everything and everyone that happens in his neighborhood, is stumped by Mr. Christopher’s murder, has to be warned by Robinson several times to be nicer with his words

Samson = strong man, married to Alan’s sister

Doreen = walks around with a snake on her shoulders (Joe), given a bad omen by the gypsies and encourages Alan to seek out Phryne for help

Alan Lee = one of Phryne’s former lovers, become her “pet” again for a short while, carousel proprietor

Sam Farrell = been under a curse, owner of the circus

Mr. Jones = Sam’s new partner, not liked by the circus folk, tries to touch Fern inappropriately several times

Molly Younger = can teach a horse to do anything, engaged to Mr. Christopher, helps train Fern, likes women, is upset that Fern slept with a clown

Lizard Elsie = not a whore, lives with sailors when they are in port, rough, goes through withdrawl while in the cell with Miss Parkes.

Mama Rosa = gypsy, several people think she foresaw Phryne coming and saving the circus, she gives Phryne a warning about being in the dark with eyes and claws coming at her

Dulcie = been felt up by Mr. Jones, juggler, magician assistant, wardrobe and costume, shows Fern around the circus camp

Matt Shakespeare = clown (along with brother Toby), Mr. Christopher’s confidante, this and muscular, becomes one of Fern’s pets

Lynn Bevan = trapeze flyer, does triple somersault

Mr. Jason Burton = dwarf, recognizes Fern as Phryne when the elephant pulled her scarf off, graduated Oxford, rats out Mr. Christopher to his associates to make sure he does not escape, asks Phryne to ride with him when the circus moves from town to town

Hans = lion tamer, crazy, warns people about getting to close to his lions (had one attack a person)

Bernie Wallace = bear keeper, his bear Bruno likes Phryne and ginger biscuits


There are other smaller characters that play a part in moving the story along or being a way to pass information.  Pretty Iris tells Harris about Exit.  There are gang members that attack Harris and Elsie to help allow Phryne to connect that the gang conspiracy and Mr. Christopher’s murder are related and who the mastermind is.  While I suspected the mastermind was involved somehow I did not see who the mastermind really was and thought this touch was pure brillance.


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