I received a complimentary copy of this book (on request) in exchange for my honest review.
This is the first in a new series, introducing amateur sleuth Emily Castles. I would describe it as a novella, more than a full length novel, at just 104 pages.
It’s Bonfire Night (or Guy Fawkes, whichever you prefer) and Emily is quite down in the dumps. Her beloved dog has just died and she is feeling rather sorry for herself. She’s received an invitation to a party being held in her street at a house inhabited by a band of circus performers. While most of her neighbours are familiar to her, this group of people who have recently moved in and renovated the space are a bit of a mystery.
Emily decides it will be better to go to the party than to mope on her own at home. She meets a colourful group of people, interspersed with her more familiar neighbours, but throughout the story, she seems uncomfortable and finds it difficult to fit in with this arbitrary group of revellers. Emily discovers that there are certain ‘entertainments’ underway, with people behaving as if in character, and she finds it challenging to know who is and isn’t acting, and if she is meant to participate or not. I felt her discomfort quite vividly.
As Emily attempts to navigate her way through the party we discover that she is a very perceptive person, and while she clearly doesn’t understand many social cues, she is very good at spotting what others might not. However, when she is sure that a murder has been committed right in front of her (and all the other partygoers), she finds it virtually impossible to convince anyone else what’s happened.
I couldn’t read fast enough, waiting to find out what had actually happened, and how Emily was going to prove that a crime had indeed been committed (because I didn’t doubt her for a second!). She’s quirky, determined and quite endearing, a bit like a cross between a young Miss Marple and and an older Nancy Drew! Very enjoyable reading.