Saturday, October 03, 2015

Misdirection -- Austin Williams

It's hard for me to resist a book with a magician as the protagonist.  I'm not sure why.  Maybe I was infected by my enjoyment of Mandrake in the comics back in the old days.  So I was predisposed in favor of Misdirection, with its protagonist, Rusty Diamond, who's left his Las Vegas life (things have been going downhill) and returned to his hometown of Ocean City.  He doesn't tell anyone he's back and rents a room from a nice woman who lets him have it cheap.  And then she's murdered.

The cops naturally suspect Diamond, but it turns out that an old high-school friend is a detective and knows Diamond wouldn't do such a thing.  Rusty's not locked up, so like any good character, he becomes an amateur sleuth.

Don't let the phrase "amateur sleuth" mislead you.  This definitely isn't a cozy.  There's violence and blood and cussing, and Diamond finds himself up against drug dealers and other bad guys.  And this isn't a mystery novel.  We find out who the killer is early on.  The question is whether Diamond will survive to find out, too.  Since the word "trilogy" appears on the cover, it's not a spoiler to tell you that he does. 

And what's good is that Diamond uses a good many magic tricks in the book.  He may be trying to leave Las Vegas behind, but the tricks and illusions are a big help in finding the killer.  

There are a few things left hanging at the end (not the solution, however), and no doubt those will be covered in the next books.  I'm looking forward to more tricks and illusions and another investigation.


Barry Ergang said...

Sounds like a good one, Bill. Since you like magician sleuths, I assume you've read Clayton Rawson's mysteries starring The Great Merlini. I can also recommend several novels by Daniel Stashower, if you haven't already read them: a standalone called Elephants in the Distance; and The Dime Museum Murders, The Floating Lady Murder, and The Houdini Specter, which star Harry Houdini and his brother Dash Hardeen. In Stashower's The Adventure of the Ectoplasmic Man, Houdini teams up with Sherlock Holmes.

Unknown said...

I've read one of Rawson's books, and I've also read one Stashower, the last one you mentioned. I need to get to some of the others.

Don Coffin said...

How about William Murray's books about Lou "Shifty" Anderson, Beginning with Tip on a Dead Crab (1984) and ending with A Fine Italian Hand (1996). Anderson is a "close-up" magician and horseplayer, and the (9) books weave magic and gambling together beautifully.

Unknown said...

Read only the first in that series.