Harry Houdini Mysteries, No 1
February 7, 2012 / 978-0857682840
Historical Mystery: 1897 New York City
by Beth E. McKenzie
Dash Hardeen, the brother of The Great Houdini, is an old man who,
despite being a decent magician in his own right, is most sought
after in his maturity because of this relationship. On the anniversary
of Houdini's death each year Hardeen can expect a visit from one
or more reporters and photographers anxious to hear another tale
of the Master's exploits. Hardeen obliges, "remembering"
events from their youth and early days onstage.
While the brothers were employed at a dime museum in New York City
they were summoned by the police to the home of Mr. Branford Wintour,
toy manufacturer and collector. When Mr. Wintour failed to appear
for dinner and knocking at his study door did not rouse him, a locksmith
was called and the magnate found dead at his desk next to a rare
automaton from the collection of the 19th-century French clockmaker
and magician Robert-Houdin (no relation). Did a magic trick kill
Wintour or are other nefarious machinations at work?
An ardent fan of another Master, what follows is deduction in a
psuedo-Holmesian style by Houdini (who is a pratt) to solve the
locked-door mystery. He insults the police by worrying about muddy
boots trampling the evidence. He quotes lines from the canon and
pretty much drives everybody crazy, but in the end he does solve
the mystery through a distinctly personal methodology.
Step up ladies and gents! Feast your eyes on four pearls for the
price of one! First, the impossible locked-door mystery story is
solid; how does the murder occur if you can't tranverse the portal?
Second, if you are interested in turn-of-the-century New York City
there are many interesting details concerning entertainments, including
those of a less salubrious nature. Third, there are a considerable
number of treats for the fan of side shows, magicians and escapologists.
Finally, if you love a good Holmesian satire you will smile all
the way through to the end.
Floating Lady Murders, No 2