Stuart Kaminsky has not only given a tribute to one of the world’s greatest magicians, he has reopened a world of entertainment that gave moral and entertaining shows to the people who served in the war to end all wars, as they called it at the time, in Now You See It, by Stuart Kaminsky, published by Carroll & Graf Publishers and the Avalon Publishing Group, copyright 2004.
In my youth I was attracted to the people who performed works of magic, as many of us were and still are today. One of the most famous and sought after magicians is one Harry Blackstone. Billed as the world’s greatest living magician Harry Blackstone is scheduled to perform a show on the stage of the famous Pantages Theatre in Los Angeles. Harry’s brother, Jeremy Bouton, was busy setting up the stage as he had done for years. After retiring from the on-stage work of being Blackstone’s assistant along with doing a comical version of the act that Blackstone had just performed, Peter decided he would be much more useful building the stage props and coaching the assistants that Blackstone relied on to present the finest magic show on the planet. Which it truly was!
Toby Peters is a private investigator for the Hollywood stars. Joan Crawford and Carey Grant are among the many that Toby has served in the past. Blackstone calls Toby to investigate the latest threat that has been made against him, and has no clue as to who would have any reason to threaten his life. Calvin Ott comes to mind as a man who has in the past challenged Blackstone’s expertise and will be hosting a dinner to honor Blackstone and his contributions to the world of magicians and the entertainment industry. Ott promises to do something that will thoroughly embarrass Blackstone and leave a black mark on his reputation.
All of that happens but certainly not the way it was planned out to be. A blackout of barely three seconds occurs, but instead of Ott gloating over Blackstone’s embarrassment the guests find their host sitting at his table with a kitchen knife in his back and as dead as can be, and the only other person at the table was Blackstone. With obvious opportunity and clear motive the police place Blackstone at the top of their list of suspects and it is up to Toby Peters and his brother Phil Pevsner to prove his innocence and find the actual killer. When the lights had come back on a man was spotted at the door who immediately ran away, pursued by all the assembled magicians and the theater attendants. Upon his capture he tells the group that he was paid fifteen dollars to stand at the door and take off running when the lights came back on. What’s more he claims that it was Calvin Ott himself who paid him to do this.
The Dramabodurians are a club of the magicians who attended the tribute dinner for Blackstone so each of them become people that Toby and Phil felt a need to interview as possible witnesses. Toby would say most of these people are somewhat eccentric where Phil would declare the lot of them as certifiably crazy. It appears one or more of them is intent on destroying Blackstone’s fine reputation. Detectives Cawalti and Seidman are assigned to the case and Toby is not too pleased as he and Cawalti have had dealings before and they have a great dislike for each other. Things really start to heat up when other witnesses start turning up dead.
Stuart Kaminsky who is a brilliant writer and has written many novels that have won numerous awards. He has also written for several films as well as other detective series novels. I really enjoy how he personalizes the people he writes about. I love the way this novel tells us about Harry Blackstone and the role he played his show in the midst of the Great War. Through it all Harry Blackstone brought us magic! Another feature of this novel is at the beginning of each chapter there is one of Blackstone’s tricks written out that was originally broadcast on the radio show Blackstone, the Magic Detective which aired between 1948 and 1950.
A very enjoyable novel on many levels!
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