Carnival of Death, Bill Crider’s contribution to the twisted men's adventure books known as The Dead Man series, is a thrilling walk into that creepy funhouse you’re not quite sure about entering. Once the action gets going, it is a bloody, relentless spectacle that keeps you glued to the page.
Matt Cahill, the protagonist of The Dead Man series, was an ordinary man leading a simple life...until a shocking accident gave him the ability to see evil acts before they take place. And thanks to Mr. Dark, everywhere Matt goes he runs into unleashed evil.
In Carnival of Death Matt has found work as a security guard at a traveling carnival. He hopes this job will help him stay anonymous, making it harder for Mr. Dark to find him. Matt soon witnesses a group of boys trying to rape a high school girl. Matt helps free the girl, and all through the incident, he feels the familiar hand of someone he can’t see. But this is no isolated incident. Not long after, a man goes crazy on the midway, claims he’s been cheated, threatens violence, and has to be restrained. Immediately following this episode, the snake lady’s tame and well-fed Burmese pythons try to squeeze the life from her during her performance. Matt kills the snakes with his trusty ax before they can snuff the life from her. All in all, not bad for a night’s work.
After all the customers’ madness, Matt finds a moment to talk with a very interested Madame Zora, the palm reader. She knows that something has followed Matt here. She wants to help him figure out what is happening, and perhaps to prevent further dangerous situations. What neither of them know, however, is that Mr. Dark has already gotten a firm grip on the customers and the carnival worker he brushed shoulders with that evening.
The climax happens the next evening, and it’s a doozy. The girl Matt saved, the boys that assaulted her, the ill-tempered man on the midway, and the snake lady all come back looking for bloodshed. Matt and Madame Zora must face Mr. Dark in the form of these now-disturbed people. Matt must use his ax to cut a path to his old enemy, and face him if he can.
Editor's note: Carnival of Death is the ninth book in The Dead Man series which blends horror and men's action/adventure fiction in novella-length books. See the entire series here.
Frank Wheeler Jr. is the author of the forthcoming book The Wowzer, a violent and darkly comic thriller about a sheriff’s deputy who moonlights as an enforcer for local drug traffickers.