The Harry Houdini Mysteries: The Houdini Specter

Daniel Stashower. Titan (www.titanbooks.com), $12.95 trade paper (256p) ISBN 978-085768-293-2
Stashower's work as a magician pays big dividends in his third devilishly clever period whodunit featuring the legendary escape artist as Sherlock Holmes stand-in, after 2012's The Floating Lady Murder. Houdini is not yet the international sensation he would eventually become; for now, he and his brother, who goes by the name of Dash Hardeen, must hustle to make ends meet. Houdini becomes fascinated with a reputed medium, Lucius Craig, after learning of his ostensibly supernatural abilities from a friendly journalist. Curious, the brothers wangle their way into a Manhattan séance, where things take a violent turn. With the participants linked by each other's hands, and Craig tied to a chair, somehow a luminous "spirit" appears and stabs one of the attendees to death. The impossible crime setup is enhanced by humor, as Houdini often falls a bit short of the Baker Street sleuth he so desperately tries to emulate. The resolution isn't as clever as in certain other magician-detective novels, such as those featuring the Great Merlini, but engaging characters and a fun story line make further exploits welcome. (June)
Reviewed on: 08/20/2012
Release date: 06/01/2012
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