Another Review at MyShelf.Com

The Floating Lady Murders
Harry Houdini Mysteries, No 2
Daniel Stashower

Titan Books
February 7, 2012 / 978-0857682925
Historical Mystery: 1898 New York City

Reviewed by Beth E. McKenzie

The old man again entertains the journalist and photographer with a story of the Weiss brothers, The Great Houdini and Dash Hardeen, on the anniversary of the elder's death. Dash "remembers" when they were both young men before Harry became an international sensation. A major step in his success was a relationship with one of the greatest magicians of his time, Henry Kellar. This year Dash decides to tell the story of their first meeting with Kellar and how they helped perfect the greatest of Kellar's illusions: The Floating Lady. In this variation of an impossible locked-door mystery the victim is seen on stage, floats to a height of 72.5 feet, waves to the crowd and falls from this height, only to be discovered dead from drowning.

In a previous review I called young Harry a prat. That was probably a little unfair; after all, he became a brilliant entertainer and entrepreneur in his own right. If he were a young man today his intensity and demeanor would probably earn him the label of geek or nerd. He is brilliant at what he does but totally oblivious to most everything else-- especially social niceties. Only his wife, Bess, or his mother can change his direction once it is established.

The Floating Lady drops some of the Sherlock Holmes shtik found in the previous work before it drags down the series. What we find is a more detailed look at the setup backstage for a turn-of-the-century (the previous one) stage troupe just short of revealing it all. Being married to an amateur magician I am fascinated to find out that the basics behind creating an illusion are the same today as they were over 100 years ago. Illusions work because people want to join in the fantasy, and there will always be princesses floating on clouds of dream.

Dime Museum Murders, No 1

Reviewed 2012