Simon & Schuster, 272 pages, $15
Gina Webb / For the AJC
Noir meets Holy Roller in T.J. Forrester’s fast-paced, hard-boiled debut novel, the story of a young carnival worker whose brush with religious greatness lands him in the biggest limbo of all: a 6-by-10 on death row in Florida, where he’s awaiting execution.
Not for tax fraud or sexual misconduct, but for murder.
Flashback to 1997: Born-overnight-but-not-again, Vernon Oliver makes a living as a slacker stagehand for a two-bit traveling tent show where he learns the tricks of the trade — including how to usher the sick far from the stage so the trained actors can be healed. Despite his high I.Q. and off-the-chart SAT scores, 20-year-old Vernon is content with the job, saving up for the day he and his girlfriend, Rickie, can buy the Harley he wants and a beach house for the two of them.
Until the night his glamorous boss taps Vernon for a shot at greatness: “Televangelism,