Books, Culture and Society

Pulp Fiction Fans Take a Dangerous Ride on “The Carnival of Death”

After the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago, which many consider the prototype of the carnival, traveling carnivals toured the United States offering their amusements and attractions at state and county fairs.

Pulp Fiction Fans Take a Dangerous Ride on “The Carnival of Death”

Thomas McNulty is the author of Wind Rider, and Death Rides a Palomino. Visit him online at thomasmcnulty.com. He is also a passionate advocate of lifelong learning through audio books on cd collections. Sample a free story by clicking here at http://www.goldenagestories.com/the-cossack-b.html

The word carnival is derived from the Italian word, carnevale, and literally means the absence of meat. Carnivals have become synonymous with merrymaking and wild festivities just before Lent. The traveling carnival had become a popular and inexpensive attraction during the Depression era when a family’s every penny was valuable. Just walking a carnival’s midway, the carnival’s central concession area – offered a variety of sights and sounds that titillated, amused and even frightened the casual pedestrian.

A carnival’s exhibitions were as varied as the people that strolled down the midway marveling at the rides, games of chance, exhibits and sideshows. Specialty acts included tattooed performers, bearded women, freak shows, strongman acts, a sword swallower and weird animal attractions such as two-headed cats or five-legged ponies. Such entertainment was affordable during the economically challenging times and during its heyday, millions of Americans partook of a carnival’s colorful amusements.

It was only natural then that one of America’s rising pulp fiction stars would set his sights on the carnival as the location for one of his hard-boiled and spectacular stories.
Originally published in the November 1934 issue of Popular Detective magazine, future’ New York Times bestselling author L. Ron Hubbard’s The Carnival of Death is pulp fiction at its best. Exciting, daring, fast-paced and populated with memorable characters, The Carnival of Death was exactly the thrill ride that patrons of carnivals and pulp readers demanded.

In The Carnival of Death US narcotics agent Bob Clark is working undercover at
Shreve’s Mammoth Carnival when he encounters a headless body. Clark suddenly finds himself in deadly peril after four tribal headhunters working for the show disappear.
Gruesome murders, a gunfight in the House of Horror, fistfights and a layer of multiple mysteries all add up to more thrills than a barker’s promise.

The carnival barker was someone that stood at the forefront and “barked” colorful descriptions of the sights and sounds that awaited those who dared venture along the carnival’s midway. For the first time in over seventy years, pulp fiction fans can follow U.S. narcotics agent Bob Clark past the barker and into an exciting whirlpool of adventure. Told in eight breathtaking chapters, The Carnival of Death is a taut, suspenseful tale. Before the first chapter ends Bob Clark discovers a headless corpse, gets attacked by an unknown assailant wielding a blackjack, and races headlong into a mystery that will tax his energies as the headless bodies begin to pile up around him.

The Golden Age of pulp fiction stories is currently experiencing a rebirth of interest from an entirely new generation of readers. These action-packed stories have a unique flavor with prose that crackles with imagery in all the genres printed in the 1930s, 40s and 50s many of which were the backdrop for many movies and television series. “The Carnival of Death” is only one of the many classic books to be enjoyed by anyone who just wants a good read!

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