Death and the Conjuror
by Tom Mead
June 27 - July 24, 2022 Virtual Book Tour
In 1930s London, celebrity psychiatrist Anselm Rees is discovered dead in his locked study, and there seems to be no way that a killer could have escaped unseen. There are no clues, no witnesses, and no evidence of the murder weapon. Stumped by the confounding scene, the Scotland Yard detective on the case calls on retired stage magician-turned-part-time sleuth Joseph Spector. For who better to make sense of the impossible than one who traffics in illusions?
Spector has a knack for explaining the inexplicable, but even he finds that there is more to this mystery than meets the eye. As he and the Inspector interview the colorful cast of suspects among the psychiatrist’s patients and household, they uncover no shortage of dark secrets―or motives for murder. When the investigation dovetails into that of an apparently-impossible theft, the detectives consider the possibility that the two transgressions are related. And when a second murder occurs, this time in an impenetrable elevator, they realize that the crime wave will become even more deadly unless they can catch the culprit soon.
A tribute to the classic golden-age whodunnit, when crime fiction was a battle of wits between writer and reader, Death and the Conjuror joins its macabre atmosphere, period detail, and vividly-drawn characters with a meticulously-constructed fair play puzzle. Its baffling plot will enthrall readers of mystery icons such as Agatha Christie and John Dickson Carr, modern masters like Anthony Horowitz and Elly Griffiths, or anyone who appreciates a good mystery.
Praise for Death and the Conjuror:
“This debut, a tribute to John Dickson Carr and other Golden Age masters of the locked-room mystery, will appeal to nostalgia buffs and fans of the classics”
Library Journal, April 2022 (**STARRED REVIEW**, Debut of the Month)
“Set in London, Mead’s stellar debut and series launch, an homage to golden age crime fiction, in particular the works of John Dickson Carr, introduces magician Joseph Spector. […] Mead maintains suspense throughout, creating a creepy atmosphere en route to satisfying reveals. Puzzle mystery fans will eagerly await the sequel.”
Publishers Weekly, April 2022 (**STARRED REVIEW**)
“Mead’s debut novel is a valentine to the locked-room puzzles of John Dickson Carr, to whom it is dedicated […] Mead faithfully replicates all the loving artifice and teasing engagement of golden-age puzzlers in this superior pastiche.”
Kirkus Reviews, April 2022
What an interesting mystery. It is written in the style of a generation ago and contains two puzzling mysteries. Both of the mysteries are of the locked room style where there seems to be no way the murder and theft could have possibly happened.
An essential theme of this novel is perception and we get a good dose of how deceptive it can be, both in magic and in murder. I like the several examples given as to how magic tricks are done. Readers are frequently encouraged to be thinking about how perception can be deceptive.
There is a grand reveal at the end, explaining how the seemingly impossible murder and theft were accomplished. We readers have been captive in believing what the witnesses have said about windows and doors being locked and other such facts. When accounts of alibis changed about three quarters through the novel, I guessed there were some other areas in which we readers had been fooled as well. That turned out to be the case. There was also a new feature of exterior architecture revealed we readers didn't know about.
This is a fun novel to exercise the little gray cells. I do feel the solution included some features of which we readers were unaware, such as the external architecture feature, but in general, an entertaining mystery for those who like ones similar to the style of Agatha Christie.
My rating: 4/5 stars.
Published by: Mysterious Press
Publication Date: July 12th 2022
Number of Pages: 254
ISBN: 1613163193 (ISBN13: 9781613163191)
Series: Joseph Spector #1
Book Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads | The Mysterious Bookshop
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(My star ratings: 5-I love it, 4-I like it, 3-It's OK, 2-I don't like it, 1-I hate it.)