Irish immigrant and PI Molly Murphy is thrilled to have a ticket to the theater to see a trio of illusionists that are all the rage. Indeed, headlining is Harry Houdini, the most sensational of them all; he has just returned from entertaining European kings and queens for a brief run on Broadway.
But before Houdini can even take the stage, the opening act goes horribly wrong and to the crowd's shock the illusionist saws into his assistant. In the aftermath, the stunned performer accuses Houdini of tampering with the equipment he keeps under lock and key. And he's not the only one critical of "The King of Handcuffs." Risking his life every night, Houdini has raised the stakes to such a perilous level that he's putting lesser acts out of business.
With everyone on edge, Houdini's wife hires Molly to be part investigator/part bodyguard, but how can she protect a man who literally risks his life every night? And how is she going to uncover whether these masters of illusion are simply up to their tricks or if there truly is something much more treacherous going on.
With sparkling wit, charming characters, and historic detail, multiple award winner Rhys Bowen brings early-twentieth-century New York City and the fantastic performers of the time vividly to life in The Last Illusion.
Set in New York City in 1903, Bowen's winning ninth Molly Murphy mystery (after 2009's In a Gilded Cage) opens with a magic show at Miner's Theatre on the Bowery, attended by Molly and her fianc?, police captain Daniel Sullivan, who wants her to give up her unconventional profession of private investigator. When the sawing-a-lady-in-half trick goes fatally wrong, this horrible accident brings the evening's entertainment to an early end, preventing Molly and Daniel from seeing the show's main attraction, Harry Houdini. After both Signor Scarpelli, the magician whose stage equipment was apparently sabotaged, and his female assistant's corpse disappear, Houdini's wife, Bess, who worries an enemy of her husband is out to get him, asks Molly for help. Later, an act the handcuff king attempts almost ends in another death, confirming Bess's fears. The gutsy Molly, who's no prim Edwardian miss, will appeal to fans of contemporary female detectives. (Mar.)
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March 01, 2010
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Excerpt from The Last Illusion by Rhys Bowen
OneNew York City, July 1903Ladies and gentlemen. For my final illusion I will perform a feat that will amaze and astound you--a feat never before attempted in the history of magic, a feat fraught with danger and horror." The showman, presented to the audience as the stupendous, sensational Signor Scarpelli, paused for dramatic effect. The atmosphere in the theater was electric. A lovely young woman stepped from the shadows at the side of the stage.