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Friday, April 03, 2020

Jazz Age Murder Mystery Clean, Exciting, and Enjoyable

(Image from Barnes & Noble)

After almost a decade as an apprentice to the late Harry Houdini, 26-year-old Wren Lockhart knows all about creating the perfect illusion.  She does it both onstage and off, concealing her true self behind a confident vaudeville act and a wardrobe of gentleman's clothing designed to both draw attention and deflect it.  Given her guarded life of wealth and privilege, no one would guess at Wren's humble beginning as the daughter of a drunken theater owner.  She'd like to keep it that way.  

When a daring illusionist act by a man Houdini denounced as a fraud goes horribly awry, leaving a man dead, Wren is unwittingly drawn into the ensuing police investigation.  Although she desires only to be left alone, she understands the gentle threat issued by FBI agent Elliot Matthews—if she doesn't cooperate, he will reveal to the public what he knows about her past.  Desperate to keep her secrets hidden, Wren agrees to help.  It soon becomes apparent, however, that she's not the only one willing to risk everything to keep the truth under wraps.  With her reputation, her secrets, and even her heart on the line, Wren must make sure Elliot's case gets solved.  And quickly.  Before everything she's worked so hard to build crumbles before her very eyes.

I discovered Kristy Cambron last year and have since been eager to read everything she's ever written.  The Illusionist's Apprentice proved a good place to start.  With plenty of rich detail, its Jazz Age/vaudeville setting comes to vivid, vibrant life.  The characters are warm, likable, and interesting.  Plotwise, the novel moves along at a brisk enough pace, making for an exciting story.  I especially appreciate Cambron's ability to create a compelling mystery but keep it PG-rated.  Although she's considered a writer of Christian fiction, God/religion is touched on only lightly in this novel.  However, Cambron does make sure to emphasize the continual triumph of light over darkness, good over evil.  The Illusionist's Apprentice does touch on some dark subjects, but its overall tone is positive and uplifting.  For all these reasons and more, I very much enjoyed this intriguing historical mystery. 

(Readalikes:  Um, I can't think of anything.  Can you?)


If this were a movie, it would be rated:

for violence and mild innuendo

To the FTC, with love:  Another library fine find
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