Carnival of Shadows by R.J. Ellory

‘Carnival of Shadows’ is a very different novel. It can’t really be categorised as a crime novel, even though it involved the FBI and a murder investigation. It is set in 1959 in Kansas. At the time, America feared communism so much that law enforcement agencies were prepared to do almost anything to combat the red menace and there was a lot of paranoia.

FBI Agent Michael Travis is sent to the small town of Seneca Falls to determine if a murder that has occurred there is a federal case. A murdered man’s body has been found under the carousel of the Carnival Diablo. The man has not been identified and the carnival workers and townsfolk claim not to know him.

Interspersed with the investigation, we are taken back through Travis’s tragic life which shows why he became the man he is.

But as Travis investigates, he finds himself challenged at every turn. The carnival is a magical place and Travis can’t understand what is going on. The leader of the carnival – Edgar Doyle challenges Travis and gradually Travis starts to doubt everything about his life.


As usual (for R.J. Ellory) this novel was incredibly beautifully written. He is a brilliant writer and once again I found myself savouring every word.

I also loved the characters in this novel, particularly Michael Travis, Edgar Doyle and Laura McCaffrey, but all the main carnival characters were brilliant.

This was a novel that made me question what really went on in the 1950s and what is really going on now.

I love Ellory’s novels and can’t wait to read the next one.


Book Published 2014


See a full list of books by R.J. Ellory

1 Comment

Filed under Book Reviews, Ellory, R.J., Fiction

One Response to Carnival of Shadows by R.J. Ellory

  1. Pingback: R.J. (Roger Jon) Ellory Profile and Books | Written Gems

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