Jump to ratings and reviews
Rate this book
Rate this book
The circus comes to town and children start to disappear. Detective Sergeant Jason Smith is persuaded to return to work after three weeks of a marijuana induced haze. Forced to endure the leadership of a new DI, the fulsome Bryony Brownhill, Smith is faced with the most difficult investigation of his colourful career.
When the children who vanished are found murdered in various parts of the city, all clues lead to the circus grounds but Smith and his team are met with a sinister silence everywhere they turn. Smith digs deeper and discovers the cause of this silence; the chain of events that led up to the vile murders that have shattered the hearts of the people of York.

312 pages, Kindle Edition

First published September 5, 2015

Loading interface...
Loading interface...

About the author

Stewart Giles

55 books64 followers
After reading English at 3 Universities and graduating from none of them, I set off travelling around the world with my wife, Ann, finally settling in South Africa, where we still live. After Ann dropped a rather large speaker on my head I came up with the idea for a detective series. DS Jason Smith was born. Smith, the first in the series was finished a few months later. 3 years and 8 DS Smith books later, Joffe Books wondered if I would be interested in working with them. As a self-published author, I agreed. However, we decided on a new series - the DC Harriet Taylor Cornwall series. The Beekeeper hit the shelves and hit the number one spot in Australia. The second in the series, The Perfect Murder did just as well. The third in the series, The Backpacker I have self-published and is now available.

Ratings & Reviews

What do you think?
Rate this book

Friends & Following

Create a free account to discover what your friends think of this book!

Community Reviews

5 stars
305 (60%)
4 stars
148 (29%)
3 stars
40 (7%)
2 stars
6 (1%)
1 star
4 (<1%)
Displaying 1 - 15 of 15 reviews
Profile Image for Linda Strong.
3,880 reviews1,644 followers
September 30, 2018
4.5 Stars

Who doesn't love a circus? Acrobats, Jugglers, Animals, Trapeze Acts, Dancers, Tightrope Walkers, Magicians, and of course, Clowns.

DS Jason Smith has been on a self-imposed leave for several weeks. For those weeks, he's been lost in the haze of marijuana .. but he has quit drinking. He also missed the exam he needed to take to promote him to DI and someone else received that promotion.

He's tasked with returning to work forthwith. Children are disappearing, and then found murdered. So far the one clue they have leads directly to the circus. Smith has an unusual feeling about these cases .. especially since either no one will talk to him and those that do seem to be lying.

He's decided he has to start at the very beginning with the first murder. What ties these deaths together? Before this case is over, Smith is going to find himself much closer to danger than he thought.

Although 5th in a series, this one reads well as a stand-alone. One of my favorite series, I highly recommend starting at the very beginning.

Jason Smith changes a bit with each book. I think he's finally growing up in some ways, and in others, well, there's always room for improvement. He loves his job most of the time, he's very good at routing out the bad guys. His colleagues and supervisors usually give him room to maneuver, even though his way of doing things is a bit unorthodox.

This is an action-packed page turner with some twists and turns along the way leading to a very surprising ending.

Many thanks to the author / Books 'n All Promotions / Jill Burkinshaw for the digital copy of this crime fiction. Opinions expressed here are unbiased and entirely my own.
Profile Image for Books 'n' All  Promotions.
809 reviews36 followers
October 8, 2018
This is book 5 in the DS Smith series and this review is for the reedited and updated digital version.

It is no secret that I am a big fan of Stewart Giles. His books tick a lot of boxes for me especially this Smith series. I suspect Smith could be an acquired taste and you have to read all the books in sequence to understand what he has been through and why he is taking so long to grow up. He is getting there.

As life has dealt him blow after blow he has picked himself back up with the aid of drink, cigarettes and now Marijuana. BUT he has also lost everybody who he cared about including his house. He is trying to put the house back together and his head when Whitton begs him to return to work as a 5 year old child has disappeared from his home.

We have a new DI in charge of the team and she isnt going to stand for Smith's way of doing things in the same way Bob Chalmers did. But she has never come across anyone like Smith before either.

As more children go missing all clues point to the circus and the troupe have secrets of their own.

This is a very unique story. One that begs the question: Is evil genetic? The team encounter many problems along the course of the investigation and are left reeling when they join up the dots and realise who the killer is. But he hasn't done yet. Can they catch him before it is too late?

This is a fast paced story that really gets the adrenaline flowing and the pages turning. Twists and turns with more shocks than a ghost train this is a riveting read that I couldn't put down.

Definitely 5 stars from me
Profile Image for Sarah.
197 reviews4 followers
August 27, 2019
I really enjoyed this fifth book in the detective Jason Smith series and again I was absorbed throughout and I highly recommend! A circus is in town or in York's case, the city, and little children are being abducted. I loved the suspense and I couldn't wait to find out why? and who? were responsible for these repulsive crimes. I love the humour in these books (the nosey neighbour 😂) and I thought the plot very well thought out. It was great to meet up with the characters again and I really like DI Bryony Brownhill - an interesting character who I can't wait to hear more of. I think that Smith will rub along with her nicely and she may even help to calm him down. I liked the fast pace of the story and there is the right balance between the descriptions of the characters and places, with what is happening within the story. I prefer more action and I always get that with Mr Giles' books! Another cracking read - thank you! x
Profile Image for Joanna Larum.
Author 13 books8 followers
October 5, 2018
This is the fifth book in the Jason Smith series and I am convinced that they get better each time! It is possible to read as a stand-alone but I think a reader would miss out on Smith's back story and what he has lived through is important in how he deals with his cases.
In York, children are disappearing and then are found, dead. Smith has been on leave, recovering from his house being blown up and, having given up drink, has taken to marijuana instead. He returns to work to find that DI Chalmers has been replaced by Bryony Brownhill, a very unattractive woman but I love her character. She has a reputation for being very strict but she seems to have Smith's number and they interact very well.
It is only when Smith is allowed to go back to the beginning, to the first case, that he begins to have an insight into what might be happening and the team can work towards a conclusion.
I love the Jason Smith books. Having read the series from the beginning, I feel as though I have travelled the writing journey along with the author and I feel proud of the quality of the novels he is producing. I'm also amazed at the twists and turns in the plot and feel so satisfied when it all comes together at the end. I would recommend to all lovers of police/crime fiction.
Profile Image for LJ (ljwritesandreviews).
731 reviews32 followers
October 9, 2018
Jason Smith has been off work for three weeks after the events in the previous book, Occam’s Razor but is drawn back by the kidnapping of a young boy from his house under the watchful eyes of his parents. When his body turns up and yet another child goes missing, the clues lead to the circus but the people there refuse to talk. Can Smith get to the bottom of the case?

So I’m carrying on my binge read of the Smith series with the fifth one, Harlequin, and I would highly recommend to read a couple of the previous books just because you may miss out on a bit of the story.

Can I just take a moment to just say how creepy the cover of Harlequin is? I’m so glad now I’ve finished it, it will no longer be glaring at me from my kindle!

Like all the Smith books, there’s plenty of action packed into it’s pages and never a dull moment. This one stands out a little from the rest as I found it a little disturbing and after reading it, I’ll probably never look at clowns the same way again (a bit like when I watched IT earlier in the year).

Have you ever read a book that you just want to give the character a good shake? I feel that way about Jason Smith. In some ways he’s matured, like not arguing for the sake of it but in other ways he’s still the same self destructive person he always was. Like smoking marijuana on duty, I don’t care if he’s a great detective, I wouldn’t want anyone who was high as a kite being anywhere near a murder case!

I enjoyed the new edition of DI Bryonny Brownhill after the promotion of Smith’s friend and long time supporter DI Chalmers. She’s tough as nails and seems to be trying to rein in his behaviour, which is a bit like trying to herd cats to me, but it makes an interesting dynamic within the book.

Harlequin is a fast paced police procedural, that may at time bend the rules of believability but is a really entertaining read.
Profile Image for Simon Leonard.
511 reviews8 followers
October 2, 2018
This is the fifth book in the series so you do ideally have needed to read at least a couple of previous books just so you get an idea of the chemistry between the team and also to see what DS Smith has had to go through in his short career as this book starts shortly after Book 4, where his house was burnt down and he is recovering from that.

This time Smith is close to retiring when some children are kidnapped and found murdered so he and the team have to investigate.

There is a new member of the team, DI Brownhill who replaces DI Chalmers with his promotion.  I really wasn't sure how to take DI Brownhill as she comes across as a mean old woman, but throughout the story her character develops nicely and the way she is written makes a brilliant counterpart to Smith.  

This book is a lot more intense than the previous ones as it involves the kidnapping and murder of children, and also what appears to be unrelated murders to start with, until Smith has investigated and finally found the link.

I am really enjoying this series and this book is definitely the best to date, the story line and characters all make it an engaging book.

I can't believe the stuff that Stewart puts Smith through in this series and this book is the same, with Smith getting involved in drugs and also almost being killed at least once during the book.
Profile Image for K.M. Lowe.
Author 33 books585 followers
July 1, 2023
Another interesting tale by Stewart Giles. For whatever reason Jason Smith has hooked me in. This was a gruesome story of children's murders so beware before you start. Like all the previous books in this series I've read so far the story is captivating and it flows relatively well, the characters are all interesting, but the one thing for me that stops the full five stars is the repetitive phrases and words. With a good editor these books could be up there with some of the top crime writers novels. Jason Smith is a force to be reckoned with. He's not afraid to be different and I think that's what I like about him. I will definitely read more to see where this series of books go...and to see how many more lives Smith has.
Profile Image for Donna Maguire.
4,429 reviews114 followers
October 6, 2018

Oh my goodness this book had everything!! It was a really fast paced storyline with plenty of twists and turns and I love how it all developed – and the ending was superb!!

I am really enjoying this series so couldn’t wait to start this one and I certainly wasn’t disappointed, I think it is probably the best book in the series so far. I was gripped right from the start and read the book the same day I started it.

Five stars from me – another brilliant addition to this series – I can’t wait to read the next book!!
431 reviews2 followers
October 29, 2019
Making my way through this series. This was a particularly horrific piece of crime fiction. The main character an expatriate Australian detective sergeant whom the author seems to hate. He has gone through some terrible scenarios. The writing and characterisation are quite well done. I am very disturbed by the drug taking by the main character. I am in two minds about continuing the series. The self destructive behaviour is very disturbing.
Profile Image for Gary Van Cott.
1,446 reviews8 followers
October 20, 2017
This book is ok. There is no way the author is as good as Bolton at her best. Smith is probably the most self-destructive and injury prone detective I have read about. I suppose that makes these books a bit different although I not sure it is a good thing. Still a few typos in the kindle edition. Surely, they have people reading these that can find and fix them.
Profile Image for Sarah Legge.
11 reviews
November 5, 2018
Circus is in town but do they come in peace?? While Smith is hunting for clues they all lead back to that tent. Until one day they all fall into place. This book is amazing at every page. Well done again Stewart.
533 reviews1 follower
October 20, 2019
I simply cannot believe just how much I am enjoying this series on Jason Smith & company in York. This last one was simply great. I will be staring Book # 6 later on today. So far these books have not disappointed me.
Highly recommend.
Displaying 1 - 15 of 15 reviews

Can't find what you're looking for?

Get help and learn more about the design.