This was another of my light reading material choices for holiday. It is the first in a series about Cornelius Quaint, who is described on the cover as “an irresistible mix of Sherlock Holmes and Harry Houdini”.
The setting is early Victorian England, 1853 to be precise. Cornelius Quaint is the owner of Dr Marvello’s Travelling Circus and the title of this book alludes to the magician’s tricks involving equivocation.
As the circus arrives in London there is murderous intrigue going on in the borough of Crawditch. The mute circus strongman, Prometheus, becomes tangled up in it when after drinking in a pub with his dwarf girlfriend he finds himself waking up in a gutter with her murdered body on top of him. Quaint and the other performers set about investigating this only to find that the past has caught up with some of them.
It was well written and very easy to read. It created good atmosphere, with the weaving of character back stories into the main plot done with reasonable skill. This naturally led on to the ending which entices the reader into the next episode.
I didn’t find the main character particularly alluring, but as the author created more back story options for him than you can shake a stick at he may eventually grow on me. It is clear that Cornelius Quaint was devised to be a series even before the first book was written, and since there was just enough enticement at the end of this book I will probably follow it up with the next in the series to see if it is able to grab me in.
On the whole I’d have to give this a 2.5 / 5 rating.