Booklist reviews Death of a Circus

Chandra Prasad Death of a Circus. Red Hen (CDC, dist.) $18.95 (272p) ISBN 978-1-59709-024-7

What city-weary soul hasn’t thought of running away to join the circus? That’s the dream of Lor Cole, a young black man leading a lackluster life in early-twentieth-century Connecticut. Lor has talent to match his professional ambition. Tall and agile, he is a superlative high-wire walker, having honed his skills throughout boyhood on the towering branches of neighborhood trees. It’s not long before the ringmaster of the Bringlebright Circus turns the young man into a star. For Lor, tiptoeing along the tightrope is infinitely easier than navigating the politics of the circus business, and he must watch his step around roustabouts and seasoned performers alike. Among them: copiously tattooed ruffian Legman Jack and his amply mustached pal, Bar None; fire-eating Cirella, with blazing red hair and a personality to match; and Barnacle, the mercurial ringmaster obsessed with success, starlets, and sex. Prasad conducted extensive research into the world of early-twentieth-century circuses for this richly textured first novel packed with glamour and grit.

— Allison Block