Sunday, March 18, 2012


Pages: 216
Date: 18/03/2012
Grade: 4+
Details: no. 2 The Harry Houdini Mysteries
            Received from BookGeeks

This is the second book in the Harry Houdini Mysteries and events in this book take place not too long after those in “The Dime Museum Murders”.
Although Harry Houdini enjoyed a short period of notoriety after his adventures in that earlier story, his fame didn’t last and he is back to struggling to make a living, never mind his name as an escapologist. Although it isn’t quite the break-through he’s hoping for, an opportunity for steady and interesting work for Houdini, his wife and his brother appears when Harry Kellar, a world-famous magician, is looking for people to work on his show.
Kellar is working on a new illusion in which he wishes to make a lady float in the air high into the dome of the theatre, and it is thanks to a clever plan by Houdini that a way of achieving this seemingly impossible feat is discovered.
On the first night the act is performed things go horribly wrong though and the beautiful young woman floating more than 70 feet up in the air plummets down to the floor and her death.
What at first appears to be a horrible accident is soon revealed to be a case of murder when it is discovered that the floating lady had water in her lungs; it appears that she managed to drown during her decent.
When one of Kellar’s assistants is arrested on suspicion of murdering the woman, Houdini and his brother Dash are convinced that he is innocent and decide, once again, to investigate the case themselves.
The unveiling of the solution to the mystery takes place during a dramatic performance which puts both Houdini and his wife Bess in grave danger.

The story in this book, like its prequel, is narrated by Houdini’s brother Dash years after the 1898 setting of the book. And, again like it was in The Dime Museum Murders, this provides the reader with a wonderful point of view. The brothers are very close yet very different. Harry is still very full of himself and convinced that he is on the verge of breaking into fame and fortune while Dash is far more modest, reluctant to throw himself into dangerous pursuits but always close at hand to keep an eye on his two year older yet in many ways more innocent and impulsive, brother. The differences between the two brothers and the ways in which they interact with each other make them believable and fun characters to read about, while Houdini’s fascination with Sherlock Holmes provides a more than a few smiles.

The story is filled with fascinating insights into the world of magicians and theatre during the 1890’s and it was very interesting to read about the creation of magical tricks we now take for granted.
The theatrical and magical world in which the stories are set also enhances the sense of mystery in the books in this series. Not only are we dealing with murder, we are dealing with seemingly impossible crimes that turn out to have credible yet anything but obvious solutions.
It is clear that the author of these books is himself a magician. He shares enough details and knowledge with the reader to make the setting, the crimes as well as the solutions plausible.
This is also a well written and easy to read book with characters that are interesting and very likeable.
In short, the Harry Houdini Mysteries are wonderful books to spend a relaxing Sunday with.

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