As with all of RJ Ellory’s recent work, Carnival Of Shadows is much more than a book. It’s an immersion, a complete experience. His prose hauls you deep into the world he describes, an entirely credible real world, not a fictional construct, not an escapist fantasy; this is a world of half-truths, half-light and half-lives. A world built from layer upon layer of shadows.
You can read the publisher’s plot synopsis below and decide whether or not to buy the book from that alone, but the book is far more than that. It’s a story – of course it is. It’s filled with characters – of course it is. It’s set in a time and a place and a specific context carefully chosen and populated to lend a surreal entertaining air to the proceedings. And you can read it that way, and enjoy it. Hurrah, etc.
There’s also far more to the novel than the story, the mix of characters and events, actions and consequences. It’s an invitation to understand, to consider, to learn and appreciate Ellory’s unique take on the events he describes. It’s packed with questions: what makes a G-man; who joins a carny; how can small-town America handle America the state and the system? What is law and what is order?
The genius lies in providing a cracking thriller wrapping for a load of serious stuff. Read it twice; the first time to enjoy the plot and the characters, then a second time, nodding your head and going Hmmm…
Excellent. Five stars.
Reviewed by Frank Westworth
Carnival of Shadows by RJ Ellory is available from Amazon as a hardback, paperback or ebook
It’s set in Kansas, 1959. A travelling carnival appears overnight in the small town of Seneca Falls, intriguing the townsfolk with acts of inexplicable magic and illusion. But when a man’s body is discovered beneath the carousel, with no clue as to his identity, FBI Special Agent Michael Travis is sent to investigate.
Led by the elusive Edgar Doyle, the carnival folk range from the enigmatic to the bizarre, but none of them will give Travis a straight answer to his questions. With each new turn of the investigation, Doyle and his companions challenge Travis’s once unshakeable faith in solid facts and hard evidence.
As the consequences of what has happened become ever more disturbing, Travis struggles to open his mind to a truth that defies comprehension. Will he be able to convince himself that things are not what they seem? Or will he finally reconcile himself to a new reality – one that threatens to undermine everything in which he has ever placed his trust?
Bestselling author RJ Ellory introduces the weird and wonderful world of the Carnival Diablo and reveals the dark secrets that lurk at its heart…