Thursday, May 4, 2017

Illusions, Mystery, and Romance

Houdini spent much of his later career debunking illusionists and spiritualists. He was particularly hard on mediums who he felt used illusions to convince people they could talk to the dead. Horace Stapleton was one of the spiritualists ruined by Houdini. Now he’s trying to restart his career by bringing a man back from the dead.

Wren Lockhart, Houdini’s apprentice, is there on the frigid New Year’s Eve when Stapleton tries to bring back a man dead twenty years. When the man rises from the grave and then drops dead, things go horribly wrong and Stapleton is charged with murder. Not only is Wren in the audience, but so is the FBI. Agent Elliot Matthews notices Wren and recruits her to help solve the mystery.

The book is set in the years after WWI when there was an intense interest in spiritualism. Conan Doyle, who was a friend of Houdini’s, believed that a medium had helped him talk to his dead son. This book explores spiritualism and the illusions that Houdini successfully debunked. I enjoyed this background.

The story is beautifully written and gives a good picture of vaudeville and the illusionists. I was hoping for a stronger plot focused on the mysterious death of Stapleton’s accomplice. However, the story is primarily about Wren and Matthews getting to know and trust each other as they seek to solve the mystery. If you enjoy character driven novels, this is well done.

I received this book from Book Look Bloggers for this review.