The Circus – James Craig

Title – The Circus

Author – James Craig

Published – Feb 2013

Genre – Crime fiction

I had seen talk of James Craig’s books on twitter, so I was pleased to receive a copy of The Circus at the launch of the C&R Crime imprint from Constable and Robinson.

Set in London this is the fourth title featuring Inspector John Carlyle. For once he’s not a clichéd policeman with a dysfunctional family, although he is seen by his superiors as perhaps something of a maverick. I felt the setting wasn’t used to it’s best – the sense of place didn’t seem as apparent as in the recent Something You Are.  I also felt that the references to previous events made me wonder if I may have missed out by not reading the earlier books.

The opening introduces us to lots of characters and lots of different stories, all a bit overwhelming to begin with.  There are three main cases that Carlyle is trying to investigate – the death of a teenage boy, a journalist found dead in a refuse truck and a missing teenager. I say “trying to investigate” as I don’t think I’ve ever read a book where so little investigation actually takes place. So much information lands in Carlyle’s lap that he must be the luckiest detective ever. Having said that there are some of the threads to the story where he is completely ineffectual and the outcome would have been the same whether or not he had been involved.

Reading the book is also a bit like watching commercial TV with product placement – there was an Ivo Svevalia leather skirt, Waterman Carene pen etc, etc – but I would have understood better with “expensive” or “exclusive”.

There were parts of the story that seemed to reflect relatively recent happenings in the news – the phone hacking scandal in particular. I think it’s great to reflect the political and cultural landscape of the time, but this weaves in well-known events with fiction and there was something about it that made me feel uncomfortable.

In short – not a series I will return to.

You can see another point of view from Crime Thriller Girl.

Score – 3/5


  1. Sue – I’m so sorry to hear that you didn’t exactly fall for this one. I do understand completely how that happens. I think I like this series better than you do, but it’s good to hear your view too.

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