Water for Elephants meets The Night Circus in The Magician’s Lie, a debut novel in which the country’s most notorious female illusionist stands accused of her husband's murder --and she has only one night to convince a small-town policeman of her innocence.
The Amazing Arden is the most famous female illusionist of her day, renowned for her notorious trick of sawing a man in half on stage. One night in Waterloo, Iowa, with young policeman Virgil Holt watching from the audience, she swaps her trademark saw for a fire ax. Is it a new version of the illusion, or an all-too-real murder? When Arden’s husband is found lifeless beneath the stage later that night, the answer seems clear.
But when Virgil happens upon the fleeing magician and takes her into custody, she has a very different story to tell. Even handcuffed and alone, Arden is far from powerless—and what she reveals is as unbelievable as it is spellbinding. Over the course of one eerie night, Virgil must decide whether to turn Arden in or set her free… and it will take all he has to see through the smoke and mirrors.Hardcover, 320 pages
Three Stars: An engaging story that falters at the end.
Arden is very familiar with struggle and hardship in her life. After finally making a name for herself as a masterful illusionist, disaster strikes after she completes her latest show. Her husband is found shoved in the remnants of the box for the cut a man in half trick, and Arden is the prime suspect. Virgil is a young sheriff on his way home after receiving devastating news. He stops at a restaurant and encounters the very same illusionist he just saw perform who is now wanted for murder. Virgil quickly apprehends her. Arden begs him to hear her story. She claims over and over that she is innocent. Virgil decides to listen to her tale. Is Arden a murderer?
What I Liked:
- I was immediately drawn into this tale, and I appreciated that it was engaging and suspenseful until the end. It was definitely a page turner.
- I loved reading about Arden's rise to fame as an illusionist. I enjoyed learning about all the illusions that were performed in the show, and how they worked. I also appreciated the attention to detail that the author utilized when explaining the show, the costumes and the illusions.
- Arden or Ava was a sympathetic character who I had no trouble feeling compassion for. Her life is one of struggle, but she never felt sorry for herself. Instead she did whatever was necessary to work hard and escape trouble. I admired her courage and her gumption to succeed.
- The story utilizes flashbacks and it moves back and forth from the current date in 1905 to the past as Arden relates her life story to Virgil, the local law enforcement. I thought the author did a great job with the flashbacks. Everything was clear and in chronological order, and I didn't have any issues with the flashbacks.
- I liked the mystery and the suspense. I was hooked by the story and I raced through pages to uncover the truth. I was relieved to learn the truth at the end. No major lingering questions. This appears to be a stand alone.
And The Not So Much:
- The big issue for me was after all the drama and buildup to the ending, I thought the finale moved way too quickly and it fell a little short. This is my personal opinion, but I felt in comparison to the rest of the story, the ending was missing something. I also thought it felt a bit too convenient. It was a bit of a disappointment. The book ends rather abruptly leaving me to wonder the final fate of Arden, Clyde and Virgil.
- Ray, the villain, felt underdeveloped. I wanted to know more about him as to why he was so obsessed with Arden, and what drove him. He was creepy and vile, but he needed more depth.
- There are hints of real magic. Arden and Ray seem to have an unusual magical ability to heal, but as to the why and how, it is never explored. The reader must accept that it just is. I would like to have more explanation on this aspect of the story.
The Magician's Lie was overall a solid and entertaining as well as engaging read. I was plunged into the strange mystery and suspense. I flew through the story. My only hesitation was that after all the buildup, I thought the ending fell a bit flat and was too convenient. Still it was an exciting read and I would recommend it for those who love a good historical mystery with a bit of magic.
I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own and I was not compensated for this review.