Smoke and Mirrors
by Casey Daniels
P.T. Barnum’s American Museum, stocked with the odd, unusual, and exotic from around the world, is the setting for the mystery Smoke and Mirrors by Casey Daniels. It’s the fall of 1842 in New York City when we are introduced to the fictional heroine Evangeline Barnum, a sister of Phineas T. Barnum.
Although Evangeline lives in a time of severe restrictions on women in the United States, thanks to her forward thinking brother, she works at the museum with many responsibilities. She has more freedom to pursue her investigations than most women would have. Problems begin with the appearance of an old family friend, Andrew Emerson, soliciting her help. Evangeline turns him away because his presence could cause the discovery of secrets she has worked hard to hide. The plot becomes ever more complex as Evangeline becomes involved in a murder, attempts on her life, and the disappearance of young ladies in New York City.
This was a fascinating book of historical fiction. It is well researched, has interesting characters, and provides a different perspective on the lives of the “human oddities” in live exhibits. These are the kinds of people, like the bearded lady, that one used to commonly find in fair exhibits, but are hopefully not exhibited as freaks anymore.
I would like to extend my thanks to netgalley.com and to Severn House for giving me the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.
Category: Historical Fiction, Mystery
Notes: #1 in the Miss Barnum Mystery Series
Publication: November 1, 2017—Severn House
Her words were not light and airy, more like a cloud that foretells a coming rain; not so threatening in and of itself—not at that moment—but simply a reminder that there is a chance there are darker things to come.
It was difficult to explain how such groups of people made me feel. In the museum, whether I was talking to one or one hundred, I was at ease. Yet in such social situations, when I was expected to talk of nothing more interesting than the weather or the latest fashions from Paris, I often felt awkward and tongue-tied.
The more mysterious a thing, the more likely it is that people will pay money for it.