The Harry Houdini Mysteries: The Houdini Specter by Daniel Stashower
Harry Houdini is a struggling performer, trying to become famous. Houdini and his brother Dash will agree to just about anything to get on the stage. Dash and Houdini are asked by an old friend to expose a conman holding séances and claiming to speak to a wealthy widow’s recently deceased husband. But during their séance, even Houndini can’t manage to immediately figure out how the conman, Lucius Craig, created a ghost-like figure that seems to have murdered one of the guests. And Craig was completely tied up to a chair, which Houdini himself secured the ropes.
This is the third installment in the Harry Houdini Mysteries, though is wholly standalone. As a fan of the famous escape artist, I love reading about Houdini – even fictional accounts. Stashower’s atmosphere and dialog feels like an exciting Sherlock Holmes novel, set in a slightly later time period and with a seemingly unsolvable mystery. In this series, Houdini is an outrageously eccentric and flamboyant performer who is always “on.” He obviously appreciates Sherlock Holmes, but is significantly more showy and absolutely believes that he is one of the world’s greatest performers and escape artists. Dash plays straight man to Houdini’s over-the-top hilarity, and the two are incredibly funny and charming.
The mystery within The Houdini Specter was inspired and engrossing. The characters are completely loveable. And the final climactic showdown was suspenseful and thrilling. Fast-paced and a quick read, I couldn’t put this down and devoured it in just a couple hours. I will definitely be picking up the rest in this fantastic series.