Now You See It by Jane Tesh

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Now You See It by Jane Tesh
Publisher: Poisoned Pen Press
Genre: Contemporary, Suspense/Mystery
Length: Full Length (230 pgs)
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Thistledown

Who is audacious enough to steal an antique box once owned by Harry Houdini? This collector’s treasure, skillfully hidden in the local Magic Club— a nightclub where magicians perform—is not merely an old theatrical prop. It is the prize in a contest that promises to jump start a magician’s career. At least that’s what Taft and Lucas Finch hoped before their prized possession was stolen. Private investigator David Randall is already busy searching for socialite Sandy Olaf’s missing diamond bracelet when he begins the search for Houdini’s box. But instead of finding the valuable box, Randall finds Taft murdered, his body locked in a backstage trunk. The magical world is brimming with jealous suspects, less successful magical competitors, romantic rivals, business conflicts, and festering hurts from long ago. Randall’s friend Camden is concerned with losing his voice, his girlfriend Kary insists on being a magician’s assistant, and Cam’s girlfriend Ellin has to deal with the overbearing Sheila Kirk, wife of a potential sponsor, who insists on hosting the Psychic Service Network’s programs.

Warned away from interfering in a police homicide investigation, Randall focuses on finding the box, searching for a missing diamond bracelet, and handling the crises embroiling his unique housemates in their rambling home on Grace Street. It will take a stroke of magic to connect the interlocking circles of these crimes.

Diamond bracelets and secret boxes take center stage in this quirky mystery. Get ready to meet some characters that will warm your heart and capture the imagination.

David Randall is a private investigator still dealing with the death of his daughter. Living in a house full of interesting characters, he takes on the case of the missing Houdini box. Filled with elements of magic and sleight of hand, murder and mayhem are rife, as are the references to magic and character stereotypes.

Now You See It was an enjoyable cozy style yarn. Coming into the series midway, I was not familiar with the characters, but quickly warmed to them as the story developed. David Randall takes a case involving a missing magician’s box that may have belonged to Houdini himself. When the owner turns up dead at the Magic Club, the plot thickens and suspects are around every corner. At the same time, David also accepts a case of a missing diamond bracelet from a socialite with an exceptionally busy social calendar and a scary knack for color coordination.

As the story develops, an entire cast of characters emerges that is heart-warming and full of spice and humor. Throughout the book, David proposes to his girlfriend and she repeatedly tells him no. Camden begins to lose his voice and Ellin, his girlfriend is plagued by a horrific force taking over her television station job. Namely the hideous Sheila and her son Dirk. An aspiring faith healer and psychic, Sheila wreaks havoc on the station much as her son does at the Magic Club. Suspicions arise about just what happened at the Saturday audition when one of the Finch brothers ended up dead and stuffed into the trunk used for his act.

Throughout the story, the reader is introduced to many stereotypical characters that become almost comical in their portrayal, but all of it works as the story is woven together. Camden uses his innate talent as a mind reader to ferret out the hidden nuances of the case and help to prevent catastrophes resulting in false predictions given by Sheila that could have caused major health and legal ramifications. David and Camden work together well as a team, balancing out the outside clues and inner workings of the soul. They also find the time to hang out at some pretty fun magic shops and hamburger joints.

Filled with mentions of songs with a magic theme, the reader learns a good deal about the life of stage magicians and the petty infighting that can go on behind the seasons. David Randall navigates the murky waters of interpersonal relationships while dealing with a staggering grief and that comes through in the story very well. The houseful of people that David and Camden live with are endearing and as love begins to find many of the characters toward the end of the book, it wraps up nicely with a satisfactory ending and a nice twist on the murder mystery and the missing bracelet. I enjoyed this read and won’t hesitate to pick up more books in this series.

If you want a feel good mystery that will hook you into a word of characters you won’t want to put down, pick up this book and give it a read.

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