Notorious by Day Keene
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Surprised this was never made into a movie - or maybe it was under a different name to avoid clashing with the Hitchcock movie? - because it has a movie-friendly plot with great characters and settings. And it has a carnival. The setup: The carnival - run by Ed Ferron, a lifetime carny and an ex-con - is under threat of foreclosure when it rolls into Bay Bayou, a crooked small town. The carnival needs to make money during its week in Bay Bayou or it is done. The town is united against the carnival. Enter stage left: Marva Miller. A woman with a past returns to her hometown. Ferron helps her out of an altercation at the train station, which puts him on the police radar. He gives her a ride to her uncle’s house, where they find him dead. The police and the lynch mob descend quickly and Ferron is the prime suspect. Keene develops this first act by taking Ferron’s situation from bad to worse and it is packed with tension. What happens after that is a bit surprising as the novel turns into a quasi detective novel. Except it is the carny man doing the detecting. To save himself he needs to find the killer. Can he do that and save the carnival, too? That is the driver for the last two-thirds of the novel and it kept me pinned to the pages.