This book was sent to me by the author for review, so all opinions are my own, but thank you to Corey for sending it to me.
This is the first novel by Corey Recko, who has written other non-fiction works, which have won some awards. He also writes for some historical magazines and things, and one thing that I really liked about his writing style in this work is that it has the conciseness and economy of expression that shows his journalistic background.
The story is a mystery, a carnival comes to a small town in America in the early 1950’s. There are all the usual carny types, from freaks to sideshow workers, and a strip show. On the last night that the festivities are in town, one of the strippers is found killed in her trailer. But who did it? Was it a disgruntled man who saw her show and wanted more? Or was it someone she knew?
In each chapter, different narrators take over and tell as the events unfold. Each has quite a distinct voice, which I really liked. The only problem is that sometimes the characters overlap on events, without adding anything new, which is a little dull. But on the whole it works.
I liked the descriptions of the carnival and the characters, it didn’t really evoke the time period for me that much, especially when one of the strippers talked about having a career and becoming a stripper to see the world. But there are no major anachronisms either, and I liked the idea for the setting of the murder. I would have liked if the locals and their thoughts on the murder had been explored more, that would have been interesting.
As the book moves forward, there are not a lot of twists and plot developments, which is a pretty common problem in first novels. There are not a lot of reveals or shocking back stories, nothing that we haven’t heard many times before. And some things seem dropped in, like the police chief being a cross dresser, conversations about atheism, and the civil rights movement. The girls are pretty comfortable talking about why they got into the game, including telling a stranger about their family incest, for example.
It’s not a perfect book, but as a study of the impact of the death of the girl on the lives of the people she lived and worked with, and the reporter and police who investigate her, it’s quite interesting. I really like Recko’s writing style, and I felt like he evoked crime thrillers of the 40’s and 50’s in some ways that I really liked. The author clearly has talent, and I think that this book should appeal to some of you.
Read It If: you like crime thrillers and the carnival setting with strippers appeals. You know who you are.