The carnival is in town. Innocent fun turns to horror when one of the sideshow acts is murdered. Phryne poses as the magician's assistant, Fern, to investigate. The heady atmosphere of the carnival takes Phryne on a bittersweet trip down memory lane – to the days when she and her sister, Janey, would sneak into the big top, until one night Janey disappeared. Her pain is reignited when she discovers that Murdoch Foyle – the man accused of murdering her sister – was the mastermind behind an elaborate prison escape plan. Any chance of discovering the truth about her sister's fate is dashed though, when she learns that Foyle has died and been cremated.