Hapless, handsome Jack Romaine, a small-time gambler and drinker in 1929 Cincinnati, tracks a mysterious woman who's the key to a hidden fortune in Wimberley's evocative mystery. Hauled before gangster Oliver Bladehorn, Jack is given a simple chore that will cancel his debts: pick up a woman being released from prison who will lead him to the prize in cash and stocks. On a trail rife with cruelty, violence and murder, he finds himself in Tampa, Fla., at Kaleidoscope, a "beddy" where carnies rest between gigs and a place for people who don't fit in anywhere else. Jack goes to work as a "brodie" (a gopher) in the hopes of getting a lead, while trying to avoid the brutal Arno Becker, who's after the same fortune. Best known for his Florida-based Bear Raines series (Pepperfish Keys, etc.), Wimberley invests both Jack and the carnie freaks with distinct personalities and common dignity. This vividly captured subculture has its own grotesque charm and beauty. (Sept.)Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Kaleidoscopeby Darryl Wimberley
Jack Romaine's addiction to speakeasies and cards has landed him in a tight spot-one which he can't use his good looks to get out of. With debts to dangerous men piling up, he becomes an unwilling recruit for a Cincinnati gangster needing an expendable tool to recover his stolen cash and railroad bonds. Unfortunately, Jack is not the only man on the trail of the… See more details below
Jack Romaine's addiction to speakeasies and cards has landed him in a tight spot-one which he can't use his good looks to get out of. With debts to dangerous men piling up, he becomes an unwilling recruit for a Cincinnati gangster needing an expendable tool to recover his stolen cash and railroad bonds. Unfortunately, Jack is not the only man on the trail of the stolen money-he is in competition with a sadistic killer who relishes the carnage he leaves in his wake. The trail leads south to Kaleidoscope; a 'beddy' for freaks during the months when carnival is out-of-season.
In 1929, a Cincinnati gangster whose driver relieved him of both money and stocks offers Jack Romaine an easy way out of his gambling debts by simply meeting Sally Price, the driver's girl, as she leaves prison. Sally winds up dead, killed by someone else after the money. The only clue Jack has is the name Alex Goodman, which leads him to Kaleidoscope, an off-season circus-freak beddy outside of Tampa. In this community, Jack quickly learns, he is the freak. Among the assorted characters he encounters are wise-cracking midget Tommie Speck, the three-breasted Cassandra, and Luna, the blue-skinned beauty who is the boss. They all clam up at the mention of Alex Goodman. Jack becomes a brodie, the lowest grunt, but he is slowly accepted after he saves the life of a pair of Siamese twins. When Sally's killer shows up, Jack finally makes some headway into discovering what happened to the missing money. Wimberley (The King of Colored Town) creates an array of circus characters rivaling those in Todd Browning's classic film Freaks. In the end, Jack has learned some humanity and can be a true father to his son. Recommended for larger libraries. [Wimberley's The King of Colored Town has just won the first Willie Morris Award for Fiction for a novel set in the South.-Ed.]
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