observations: This is a strangely-structured but always intriguing story: there are two major ‘crimes’, and one is wide-open to the reader right from the beginning. You then watch in disbelief as police investigate a 20-year old incident - really? That man remembers the mileage of a car on a certain day all that time ago? – but the book certainly keeps the interest up.
Bell wrote her many crime stories over more than 40 years (there's one from 1950 here), and here she seems to be trying to keep up-to-date – there are some swear words dropped in rather oddly (Agatha Christie never did that) and then - political satire! - one character who has no money
had in no way begun to understand what poverty meant, in real, relative or assumed trade union terms.
There is also a housekeeper contemplating possible pregnancy among the maids, in one of those sentences you could never parse grammatically but understand exactly what she means:
They’ve left to get married and not before time, I’ve often wondered, but there’s never been anything said, and why should there, these days?
The final scenes at the circus are melodramatic, totally unconvincing, and highly enjoyable. The opera they have seen the night before is Marriage of Figaro, where the foundling Figaro is reunited with his long-lost parents.
Links on the blog: Dressing up as a circus clown here, and Terry Pratchett’s splendid clown’s funeral. The theatre school is also teaching circus skills in this book. In the marvellous Saffy’s Angel an outsider family ends up going on a strange quest in Italy – almost exactly the same happens here, though it was a relief to be re-assured that they were unrelated, we half-feared….
The picture is of a circus in NE England, and is from the Tyne & Wear Museum and Archives.