Carnival of Terror: Carnival of Terror Series Book 1
Carnival of Terror: Carnival of Terror Series Book 1
Carnival of Terror: Carnival of Terror Series Book 1
Carnival of Terror: Carnival of Terror Series Book 1
Carnival of Terror: Carnival of Terror Series Book 1
Carnival of Terror: Carnival of Terror Series Book 1
Carnival of Terror: Carnival of Terror Series Book 1
Carnival of Terror: Carnival of Terror Series Book 1
Carnival of Terror: Carnival of Terror Series Book 1
Carnival of Terror: Carnival of Terror Series Book 1
Carnival of Terror: Carnival of Terror Series Book 1
Carnival of Terror: Carnival of Terror Series Book 1

Carnival of Terror: Carnival of Terror Series Book 1

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Listen to a sample here:

🗣 Narrated by Thom Bowers

The circus is coming to town. And terror follows in its wake…

When a man is killed under mysterious circumstances, retired marine and the world’s greatest ghost hunter, Shane Ryan, finds himself tangled up in the case. The trail of clues leads him to a sinister traveling carnival. And a string of new murders…

Backtracking along the carnival’s route, Shane discovers a ghost town filled with bloodthirsty wraiths. Battling these undead killers, Shane is barely able to escape with his life. But he manages to unearth a link between the murder victims and a hideous crime from the town’s sordid past.

Years ago, a grave injustice led to bloodshed. Now, a dark, terrifying force has been unleashed: a relentless spirit, on a brutal quest for revenge. And unless Shane and his allies can stop it, more blood will be spilled.

Shane Ryan hasn’t lost a battle with the supernatural yet. But this time, he may have met his match…

PRINT LENGTH 203 pages
AUDIO LENGTH 7 hours and 54 minutes
PRODUCT DIMENSION 6 x 0.5 x 9 inches
ISBN 979-8-89476-002-5


Chapter 1: Hunting Grounds


“A dead police detective. That is unusual,” Carl said in German. Shane looked up from the newspaper at his friend reading over his shoulder. Detective Warren Salisbury had been found dead overnight.

“It is,” he agreed.

“With frostbite. In this weather,” the ghost continued. Shane nodded silently and lifted the mug from the table in front of him, sipping his coffee as he continued reading.

“Did you know the man?” 

“No,” Shane said. “And according to this, he wasn’t a local cop. Retired, too.”

“It is suspicious,” Carl continued. Shane sipped his coffee again.

“Well, an out-of-town cop found in the Merrimack with frostbite when it’s sweltering outside does seem a little off.”

“This man ran afoul of a ghost.”

Shane closed the paper and set it on the table. He finished his coffee and pondered another cup as he set it down.

“Seems like,” he agreed. Ghosts in Nashua were not anything new, but this case was unusual. There was a witness, according to the paper. Ghosts that killed people rarely left witnesses.

“I find this very exciting. A hometown haunting. It has been some time since you had a local puzzle to solve, don’t you think?” Carl asked. Shane got up from the table and crossed the kitchen, pouring another cup of coffee.

“Local puzzle? I’m not one of the Hardy Boys,” he pointed out. Carl shrugged.

“No. But you have been off all over the world chasing spirits. It is a pleasant change of pace to stay close to home.”

“I haven’t been all over the world,” he replied. “And there’s nothing saying I’m getting involved with anything here, either.”

“But surely you will at least go see what has happened,” his friend said. “We can’t have ghosts roaming town killing visitors.”

Shane took another drink, scalding his tongue in his haste, and hissed.

“No. Can’t have that,” he agreed. Carl scanned the paper on the table again. “They don’t name this witness. It might be hard to find them.”

Shane grunted. It wouldn’t be hard. Carl knew that. 

“You want me out of the house, Carl?” he asked. The ghost shook his head.

“Of course not, my young friend. It seems like we have spent little time together lately. But I see this piquing your interest already.”

“I was just reading the paper,” Shane pointed out. He finished his coffee while Carl commented on the weather and the other stories on the front page of the paper. 

Shane put the cup in the sink and left the kitchen, Carl trailing behind as he made his way through the cold, dark house to the front door. 

“Why do you think the ghost left a witness to its crime?” his friend asked after Shane opened the door and stepped into the fresh air. 

“You know it as much as I do,” Shane told him. “The cop wasn’t a random kill, and this ghost took him out for a reason. The witness wasn’t involved, and the ghost didn’t care that it had been seen.”

Carl grinned.

“Very exciting. I look forward to hearing what you discover.”

“Right,” Shane said, heading toward his car. It was good to know the dead in his house were still interested in living vicariously through him. 

The drive across town to where the police had discovered the body was a short one. Shane recognized the spot from the photo in the paper, a sharp curve in the Merrimack River in a park where people sometimes went fishing or walked their dogs. When he approached, he could see police were still on the scene, and that the area around the river was cordoned off with police tape.

Shane parked on the street and walked along a path toward the river, watching from a distance as a forensics team picked through the reeds and muddy bank a short distance from their police van. Other pedestrians were in the park as well, rubbernecking the crime scene as people tended to do, and Shane wandered among them, just another face in the crowd.

He got as close to the crime scene tape as he could without drawing any undue attention. The body had been removed, and he could see nothing obvious from his vantage point to indicate there even had been one. But there was something.

The current of the river was not remarkably fast, but there was a flow to it. The bend jutted into the park and, as a result, the area where the forensics team was working was clogged with sticks and other river detritus that built up along the shore. 

Among the usual things one would expect to find along the bank, a handful of small, yellow flecks bobbed and danced in the river’s flow, stuck against the reeds and sticks. Shane stared at them, not entirely sure he could trust what he thought he saw. His best guess was that he was looking at popcorn.

Turning away from the crime scene, he made his way upriver, as close to the water as he could given the weeds and mud along the banks. He caught a glimpse of another kernel every so often, rustling and bobbing on the surface where it’d been caught.

A red-and-white-striped cup danced in an eddy a short distance ahead, and another was caught on the far side of the water. Shane kept walking, and the park gave way to a commercial area. He stuck to the river’s edge, likely trespassing on someone’s land, but no one called him out or even seemed to notice. 

Nearly a mile separated Shane from where the body had been discovered when the land around the river opened up again. The smell of the popcorn preceded anything he could see, letting him know he’d come to the right place. It was soon joined by faint music that grew louder the longer he walked, an annoying and repetitive instrumental medley that made him think of the circus.

He wasn’t sure where he was, just a spot on the outskirts of town in what he would have considered open country. Now, however, it was less open. The field alongside the river was packed with trucks and vans and trailers.

Beyond them, farther from the river and in the heart of the field, a small village of tents had been erected along with a handful of carnival rides. The Ferris wheel in the center towered above everything. It was by no means big compared to the ones that existed in major amusement parks, but it still stood above the scattered trees nearby.

Shane left the river behind and made his way to the wall of tents and trucks that served as a makeshift border for the carnival. He ducked into the first opening he found, heading onto the carnival grounds.

A scattering of patrons played games, rode rides, and ate a variety of fried snacks. The booths sold the same red-and-white-striped cups he’d seen in the river.

He walked among the booths and tents, glancing at signs promising wondrous prizes for hitting targets or deep-fried delights for just a few dollars. Other tents boasted an array of sideshow freaks, something Shane didn’t even think existed anymore.

His eyes were drawn to the tent of a fortune teller, the sign over the entrance naming her Madame Shiva. Below the sign and next to the pulled-open tent flap stood a ghost. He was an average-looking man, with uncombed hair that swirled to one side of his head and a slightly droopy eye. He stood there like he was waiting for a bus, just staring out at the world.

Shane passed the ghost without saying anything, wanting to get more of a feel for the carnival and whether it was the source of the body downstream. The ghost by the fortune teller’s tent could have been the killer, but there was more ground to cover.

He headed north along a row of game booths. The carnies shouted at him, offering him a chance to win any number of cheap stuffed toys, inflatable hammers, and more. He ignored them, watching the workers and the crowds instead, sparse though they were at that time of day.

Another ghost leaned against the wood structure of the final game booth at the edge of the carnival grounds. The carny operating the game—a ring toss where the prize seemed to be goldfish in tiny, plastic aquariums—gave no sign he noticed the spirit. 

Like the first ghost, this one looked bored, like he was slacking off at work, staring up at the clouds. He was taller and slimmer than the first ghost, and he wore thin, wire-framed glasses. If not for the clear stab wound in the center of his striped, button-down shirt, he could have passed for a schoolteacher or an accountant.

Shane ignored the second ghost and headed back the way he had come, on the far side of the midway this time, investigating booths and tents as he went. He saw no other ghosts by the time he reached what looked like the carnival’s main attraction, a conglomeration of tents bedecked with signs advertising a variety of freaks and human-oddity acts held within. 

A sign outside the main tent indicated the sideshow was closed but would open again in a few hours. He pulled the tent flap aside and entered anyway, slipping into the dimly lit and humid space unnoticed.

The smell inside the tent was a mix of warm plastic, hay, and the popcorn-and-fry-oil smell of outside. While the sign in the tent promised the world’s strongest man, no one was present, leaving Shane to inspect the space alone.

Nothing stuck out to him as unusual, and he continued to the next tent through an open flap, and then into the one beyond that. There he paused, taking in what had to be the biggest ghost he had seen.

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