Shaft’s Carnival of Killers

© 1974 Ernest Tidyman
US: Bantam edition published 2 September 1974, First Printing [paperback]; 136pp
UK: Corgi edition published 24 January 1975 (0-552-68494-5); 136pp [paperback].

Story: Ernest Tidyman
Manuscript: Robert Turner
Additional Chapter and Final Edited Manuscript: Ernest Tidyman

Dedication: None.

Bantam US paperback.

Don’t kick sand in his face or he’s liable to drop a whole beach on you! Anyway, that’s how Shaft gets caught up in some tropical treachery involving an assassination plot, some shady cops, beautiful women, killers lying in wait and a crew of nasties ready to turn Jamaica into a disaster area! 


JOHN SHAFT, Private Investigator
ALEX ASHTON, Chief of Detectives, Island Police
MARITA DAWES, Lightwood’s PA
LT. GRANDSDEN, Kingston police
LT. NIMBUS, Kingston police
SIMEON JONES, cab driver
MARVIN GREEN, Shaft’s accountant
JOB CUTHCART, hunchback villain
SARAH WATSON, Lightwood’s mistress
LINDA, New Jersey teacher
VALERIE CASCAFALCO, New Jersey teacher
DAVID MICHAELANGELO, barman at Sheraton
GUS DUMBRILLE, Cathcart’s partner
AUNT VANGIE, Marita Dawes’ aunt
HORACE TUCKER, charter pilot
GREGORY, young boy in Shanty town
ILSA, maid at Summit Great House
CARLO PRAGINO, beggar at Paw Paw Club
QUEEN, CID Island Police
ISLIP, CID Island Police
JACQUES, Bernadette Lightwood’s body-guard
TARZAN LEE, taxi driver
FREDDY, taxi driver
SIR NEVILLE LEVIN, Minister of Agriculture
ROLLIE NICKERSON, part-time actor/barman

Original German paperback published by Ullstein.


  • Developed from an original screenplay outline Tidyman produced before the release of the first Shaft movie. Tidyman sent his screenplay outline to Robert Turner on 17 August 1972 and asked him to turn this into the sixth book in the series.
  • Turner’s final manuscript was submitted on 2 March 1973 after delays were caused due to an illness Turner had during the winter.
  • Tidyman deemed Turner’s manuscript unfit to submit to Bantam and undertook extensive editing and re-writing – including an additional chapter due to the low page count. He submitted the final edit to Bantam who accepted on 31 July 1973 – but it would be a further year before the book was published.
  • The novel is set in late October 1973.

Shaft felt mean, miserable and tight. He hadn’t been able to unwind his big black body or the mind that made it move – not with beds, broads or booze. So he had to come to this place. Alone.

(Tidyman shows his displeasure for the screen treatment of his character) Shaft always thought that people who wore mustaches were assholes who were trying to hide something and were unsanitary as well. But this one was at least neat and trimmed. (Chapter 7)

Pendragon’s German reprint.

With SHAFT’S CARNIVAL OF KILLERS there are distinct signs that Tidyman was tiring of his creation. The page count is low – partly due to Turner’s illness stalling completion of the book, the plot far-fetched and there are frequent lapses into self-parody. The mystery element is a total misfire and on top of this Shaft’s dispatching of the villains is almost cartoon-like in its ease of execution. But all this said the colourful Jamaican settings and the characters make it an enjoyable and often funny read despite its many faults.

“The whole mess climaxes at a costume party where shots are fired in the dark and none of the plot threads come together at all. Nothing makes a damn bit of sense, but the plot moves along quickly enough, adding more and more stuff, so that in the end it doesn’t really matter.” – Scott Adams, Teleport City, 7 June 2005

“Cool stuff, but style is definitely winner over the content here… Language is great too. Full of slang and cool jokes but at the same time it all seems to be totally natural and not forced at all.” – Alpha-60 Books

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