Cirque du Slay By Rob Osler: Review/Giveaway

Jun 8, 2024 | 2024 Articles, Cynthia Chow, Mysteryrat's Maze

by Cynthia Chow

This is the first of several LGBTQ+ books we will be covering in honor of Pride this month–but here at KRL, we strive to support the LGBTQ+ community all year long. Details at the end of this post on how to enter to win a copy of the book and a link to purchase the book from Amazon.

The circus is in town, and natural introvert Hayden McCall has been invited for a night out to attend Seattle’s Mysterium’s new artistic circus performance. The show has been sold out for months, but Hayden and his best friend Hollister have been given tickets by their frenemy Sarah Lee. The baker is busy preparing for the charity event Bakers without Borders, with her coup being that she booked Mysterium’s star and director to perform. Kennedy Osaka and Sarah Lee were college roommates together, but when Kennedy is found dead in a hotel with Sarah Lee standing over the body holding scissors, she of course becomes the main suspect. A series of angry texts Sarah Lee had sent to Kennedy certainly doesn’t look good, but on the plus side they’ve hired stellar defense attorney Jess Gemalto. His being transgender and a near perfect doppelgänger for Hayden adds a fascinating element, even if Jess is better dressed and his red hair far better styled.

While Hayden is initially reluctant to again delve into an investigation, his far more extroverted BFF Hollister quickly has them mapping out suspects and planning their interrogations. The six-foot, mohawked, queer African American woman is the opposite of the petite, shy, middle school teacher, but Hayden has to admit that she has helped him to push his boundaries and make him more sociable. He explores that in his Mates on Dates blog, where he documents his dating experiences and identity as a gay man. It’s here where he shares his confusion and struggles with the dancer “Carlos,” the Venezuelan dancer Camilo whom Hayden met in the previous installment, The Devil’s Chew Toy. Camilo teases his interest in Hayden and always dangles the possibility of something more, but never fully commits or takes the next step. This has left Hayden confused and unable to move on, but the more overt interest from a physically gifted Mysterium acrobat not only stirs up Camilo’s jealousy, it gives Hayden a much healthier romantic suitor. This still leaves Hayden, Hollister, and bakery owner Burley the opportunity to track down suspects, which include those in line for Kennedy’s artistic director position and the accompanying million dollar salary.

This second in the series welcomes readers into the delightful community in Seattle, and an included quote from Amistad Maupin appropriately reflects the classic Tales from the City vibe that author Rob Osler seems to honor here. Hayden’s Mates on Dates blog is relatable and a genuine delight, all ending with the phrase “If you can’t be good, be safe!” I honestly could have used his advice on relationships long ago!

The topic of pronouns, as well as queer and transgender identities, are discussed sympathetically and without ever coming across as being preachy or as forced exposition. Hayden is a very vulnerable and likable character, and all will be able to relate to his insecurities and relationship troubles. His exuberant friends Hollister and Burley add an immense amount of fun and humor, especially as they confidently bluster their way through the investigation. Readers will enjoy spending time with these engaging characters as they entertain one another and genuinely love just hanging out together and sharing their life experiences.

You can click here to purchase this book from Amazon.

To enter to win a copy of Cirque du Slay, simply email KRL at krlcontests@gmail[dot]com by replacing the [dot] with a period, and with the subject line “slay” or comment on this article. A winner will be chosen June 15, 2024. U.S. residents only, and you must be 18 or older to enter. If entering via email please include your mailing address in case you win. You can read our privacy statement here if you like.

Check out other mystery articles, reviews, book giveaways & mystery short stories in our mystery section. And join our mystery Facebook group to keep up with everything mystery we post, and have a chance at some extra giveaways. Also listen to our new mystery podcast where mystery short stories and first chapters are read by actors! They are also available on Apple Podcasts, Google Play, and Spotify.

Cynthia Chow is the branch manager of Kaneohe Public Library on the island of Oahu. She balances a librarian lifestyle of cardigans and hair buns with a passion for motorcycle riding and regrettable tattoos (sorry, Mom).

Disclosure: This post contains links to an affiliate program, for which we receive a few cents if you make purchases. KRL also receives free copies of most of the books that it reviews, that are provided in exchange for an honest review of the book.


  1. Thank you Cynthia and Kings River Life for this wonderful review–you GET THIS BOOK. It’s enormously satisfying to read that what I had strived to achieve seemed to land. If you let me know who wins the book, I’ll send a custom signed book plate and bookmark separately to the winner! Thanks for the support. And HAPPY PRIDE to all readers. Good books are good books. This June, what better time to read broadly, diversely, and joyously. 🙂 xoxo Rob

    • You are very welcome!

    • Happy Pride Month! Mahalo from Kane`ohe Public Library!


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