CARNIVAL NOIR follows right off the end of PARTS UNKNOWN, the novel that introduced Chris Lyon (though, to be fair, Chris had cameos in the Hector Lassiter novel PRINT THE LEGEND and last year's standalone thriller, EL GAVILAN).
PARTS UNKNOWN, like the Lassiter novels, is an historically inflected crime novel/thriller based on the Cleveland torso slayings—aka, the crimes of the so-called "Mad Butcher of Kingsbury Run."
The second of the Lyon thrillers spins on historical crimes to varying degrees, but it moves in a very different direction from its predecessor in many key respects.
Consistent with one of the aims of the Lassiter novels, the books comprising the Chris Lyon series are calculated to be very different from the novel immediately preceding and the one following each entry. In other words, readers who sample the Lassiter or Lyon series shouldn't expect quite the same novel book-to-book.
In approaching CARNIVAL NOIR, I wanted to try for a blend of the feel of Ian Fleming's early James Bond novels and William Lindsay Gresham's classic circus noir, NIGHTMARE ALLEY.
Central to CARNIVAL NOIR, and to the remaining Lyon thrillers, is the female protagonist introduced in the opening pages of the new novel.
Salome Arnaud is not just the pivotal woman in Chris Lyon's life, but in a real sense, she's the axis around which many other aspects of my work spins.
I first wrote the character of Salome Arnaud in a never-to-see-the-light-of-day first novel finished in the late 1980s. A lot of my subsequent characters, themes and even some plot elements lurk in that early text, but only Chris and Salome survived into my published works.
In the manner of crime novelist/screenwriter Hector Lassiter, "the man who lives what he writes and writes what he lives," — Lassiter, whose life and writing career were shaped by the great love of his life, Brinke Devlin — Salome is the pivotal woman in Chris Lyon's life.
But she is much more: Salome is the hook upon which much of my own writing hinges.
Salome Arnaud, born of Gypsy lineage, raised in seedy traveling carnivals and cultivated to be a fortune teller by her "adoptive mother," hints at erotic and supernatural undertones infusing Lyon and Lassiter novels still to come; she heralds an occult aspect that will broaden and deepen as other of my novels appear.
If future Lyon novels are warranted, in time, Salome will center her own thriller. In the fourth of the Lyon novels, Salome will also bridge my two primary series in an unexpected way, profoundly binding the worlds of Chris Lyon and Hector Lassiter.
The following book trailer sets up the future direction of the Lyon series, and gives a clue or two about the looming nexus between the Lyon and Lassiter sagas.