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Now You See It by Jane Tesh

The inhabitants of the Grace Street boarding house in “Parkland” North Carolina are back in Jane Tesh’s latest mystery, “Now You See It.”  This is a cosy mystery about the murder of a member of The Magic Club who is found locked inside a box that the magician should have been able to escape from.  David Randall, local owner of a detective agency and resident of the Grace Street house, is hired to find out who killed Taft Finch.  In addition, Finch’s brother, Lucas, wants Randall to locate a missing box that was reportedly once owned by Houdini and had been recently purchased by Lucas Finch, brother of the man who is killed.  Could the disappearance of the Houdini box and Taft’s death be related?

The third mystery to be solved is the disappearance of a diamond bracelet lost by a socialite who might have left it at one of the charity events she helped to run the week the bracelet disappeared.  The search for this bracelet provides more frustration than diversion from the more serious investigations for Randall.

Now You See It” is the third in Tesh’s “A Grace Street Mystery” series.  The reader continues to learn more about the inhabitants of the Grace Street Mansion including Randall, his girlfriend, Kary, and Camden, who is a mentalist.  Through Cam and his girlfriend Randal and Kary get to know the even quirkier members of The Magic Club and get involved in the death investigation as a result of those connections.

Now You See It” is a quirky, occasionally funny introduction to the world of magical deception and mental perception.  It will be a fast read for cosy lovers.

Reviewed from a supplied copy.

Liz Nichols


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Cat in a White Tie and Tails by Carole Nelson Douglas

Cat in a White Tie and Tails” is about number 24 in the Midnight Louie Mystery series and is one of the most enduring of the mystery series based on the antics of animals.  Midnight Louie is a particularly sophisticated and precocious black cat owned by Las Vegas PR entrepreneur, Temple Barr.  In this rendition, Louis accompanies Temple and her fiance, Matt Divine, to Chicago where they stay with Matt’s mother and they take a look at a potential job opportunity for Matt as a media host in his home town.  Louis is stolen right out from under the couple at Matt’s mother’s house, but the furry sleuth manages to get himself out of trouble before anyone can figure out where he has been taken.

Meanwhile, back in Las Vegas, former magician, Max Kinsella, has been asked by his nemesis, Detective Molina, to help solve the seemingly random murder of Cliff Effinger, Matt Devine’s stepfather.  Molina suspects Kinsella of the crime and is hoping that the master magician will incriminate himself.

As usual, Douglas has laced this mystery with plenty of action of the human and feline variety but one wonders how much longer this series can go.  It appears that in the next installment or two Temple and Matt will get married and Max will ride off into the sunset.  A good many of the loose ends of killings that occurred in the last installment or two are tied up in this book.  We already see Max and Temple going their separate ways now that she has settled upon life with Matt, the former priest… unless, of course, the author introduces some new twist.

The best parts of “Cat in a White Tie and Tails” are the chapters Nelson writes (supposedly) with Midnight Louie. Louis is sophisticated, confident and sassy and at the top of his game.

Liz Nichols

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So Damn Lucky by Deborah Coonts

So Damn Lucky”  is the third in the Lucky O’Toole Vegas Adventure series.  It should be out to the public in hardcover on February 28. This is another fast-moving, rip-roaring thrill ride through unusual parts of the city that never sleeps including the sewer system and parts of the desert just outside Area 51.

The adventures of Las Vegas Babylon casino’s Customer Relations manager, Lucky O’Toole continues with another crazy set of characters and situations.  Only in Las Vegas…

This time the mystery revolves around a UFO convention and a magician’s attempt to succeed at one of Houdini’s tricks– escape from a water-filled tank. Like Houdini, the magician, Dimitri Fortunoff, fails to make it out of the tank and is extricated by breaking the tank.  The badly injured– or dead?– Fortunoff, never makes it to the hospital.  Evidence is revealed that the ambulance that picks Fortunoff up is not actually from a hospital but was stolen from the ambulance pool.

From investigating the disappearance of the magician Lucky finds out that a  number of Fortunoff’s associates were involved in a failed Area 51 experiment years before.  All of the participants are sworn to secrecy and at least one is a vagrant who lives in the city’s sewer system.  Lucky knows the vagrant, Carl, from previous experiences and is one of the few people he trusts.

Meanwhile, Lucky’s personal life is in a shambles.  She has let fiancee, Teddie go to live his fantasy life as a rock star and she is somewhat torn between remaining loyal to Teddie and accepting the attentions of the new French chef at the casino, Jean-Charles, or possibly the affections of Dane, the Gaming Commission’s representative.  Lucky also finds that, as usual, her penchant for sticking her nose in police matters is bringing her unwanted attention from a killer. The story also progresses on the personal front between Lucky’s bordello-owning mother, Mona, and her casino-owning father, the Big Boss.

I will say that I was not left as satisfied with “So Damn Lucky” as with the two previous Lucky O’Toole mysteries.  I found the story of how all the magicians and UFO specialists related to the mystery about Area 51 rather confusing, as well as to how the killer’s interest was involved in that part of the story.  Perhaps I got distracted while reading parts of the book and should go back and reread portions.

Despite some confusion I am still a huge Lucky O’Toole fan.  She is one of those rare mystery series heroine’s who’s life becomes almost real to the reader.  We care about what happens to her and how she resolves the crises in her personal life.  I can’t help but feel a little sad that she has shut off possibilities of a come-back with Teddie so soon and is about to embark on a relationship with the Frenchman– or so it seems.  Perhaps the tension that defines Lucky’s love life will remain unsettled for now so the reader can go on rooting for their favorite love interest…

The beauty about this particular series is there are endless crazy plotlines available because of the variety of people who live in, work in and visit Las Vegas.  Each book in the series leaves hints as to what is next.  At the end of “So Damn Lucky” we can surmise Lucky will be busy running the revived and renovated Athena as its new CEO in the next book, and there will be some further exploration of this relationship with the French chef. I can’t help but think we haven’t seen the last of either Teddie or Dane, though.

Liz Nichols

Reviewed from a pre-publication copy supplied by the author.

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