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  • Today, “Le Carnaval des ombres” by RJ Ellory, published on June 3, 2021 by Éditions Sonatine.

Ju lit les Mots, contributor to the

20 Minutes


reading group

, recommends

Le Carnaval des ombres

 by RJ Ellory, published on June 3, 2021 by Éditions Sonatine.

Her favorite quote:

It seems to me that what we should fear the most is ignorance.

Because most of the world's problems come from her.

It leads to impatience, intolerance and hatred.

Why this book?

  • Because the paranoia of rural America in the late 1950s

    is at its height when the people of the small town of Seneca Falls see a traveling circus arrive. All the more so when a body is discovered under the carousel, and no lead can identify the victim, Special Agent Michael Travis is sent by the FBI to solve this case. So far, it seems simple, but nothing will be. The author blurs the tracks and draws us into a plot with multiple ramifications.

  • Because the author's pen manages to hypnotize us,

    to embark us in an atmosphere, where human nature, pretenses, lies, pain are palpable. Through Michael Travis, we discover the reminiscences of a past difficult to bear, and the psychological conditioning in which the human being can slip, not to suffer, to the point of becoming rigid. At the same time, we discover colorful characters, the opposite of this rigid image, with extraordinary resilience capacities.

  • Because while offering a noir novel, a societal novel,

    RJ Ellory emphasizes certain dark events in the history of the United States, without ever falling into a dogmatic tone. The plot is embedded in History, and evokes in the background, the CIA and FBI manipulation projects during the 1950s, aimed at developing mental manipulation techniques. He also denounces, through the voices of his characters, the recruitment of scientists from Nazi Germany to fight against the USSR.

  • Because the subjects approached are all that make up the essence

    of an excellent noir novel, the death penalty, politics, rub shoulders with good feelings, love, and everything that some people pay for. 'a government, legitimately, under the pretext of the general interest ... An excellent cocktail for a perfect reading, despite the nearly 650 pages.

  • Because the author is not satisfied with a linear plot

    , nor a precise genre, since we also find there the codes of the noir novel, the thriller, the thriller, the love, the resilience .

The essentials in 2 minutes

The plot.

 A man is found dead in the middle of a fun fair.

Michael Travis works for the FBI and is given his first solo investigation.

It's a test and his career depends on it.

But nothing is going as planned ... This investigation will call into question all his certainties.


 Michael Travis Senior Federal Agent, surrounded by some FBI pundits pulling the strings.

The "Diablo Carnival" troupe where the people are as different, as strange as each other: a dwarf, a tall thin, one with too many fingers, a mentalist, a contortionist ...


 Small lost town called Seneca Falls in Kansas, where a traveling circus has just set up for a few days.

The time.

 The plot takes place in 1958 but we can easily transpose it to our time with sometimes the same state of mind.

The author.

RJ Ellory was born in 1965 in Birmingham.

British author of detective novels and thrillers,

Le Carnaval des ombres

 is his thirteenth novel published in France.

This book was read

with palpable emotions.

A societal novel which makes us discover rural America of the 1950s. A novel full of life, where feelings are dissected.

A story of resilience, of self-quest.

An unclassifiable, unique novel.

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