Thursday, July 15, 2021

Book Review: The Magic Square by John Gaspard (Eli Marks #7)

Stars: 5 out of 5
Pros: Great story and characters
Cons: Would be nice to see all the regulars
The Bottom Line:
Magic convention
Murder frames family friend
Fun murder myst’ry

Who Made the Body Appear at the Magic Convention?

There are some series I read that I always forget just how much I enjoy them between books.  The Eli Marks series is one of those.  I just finished The Magic Square, book seven in the series, and I’m left wondering why I didn’t pick it up sooner.

If you are new to the series, Eli is a magician, which is a different hook for a cozy series.  Since, like so many others, I always enjoy magic, I find this hook fascinating.  In addition to performing magic, Eli works in his uncle Harry’s magic shop in Minneapolis, although this book takes both of the characters to an out-of-town magic convention.

The timing of this convention couldn’t be better since Harry has just released a two-volume book detailing his career in magic and some of his most famous illusions.  Since Harry is a well-respected magician, the chance to meet him and get his autograph in the books means the line for their booth in the Dealer’s Room is always full.

Also along this weekend is family friend Abe Ackerman.  Since Abe has specialized in mentalism, he rarely attends magic conventions, but he is making an exception this weekend.  However, he starts regretting that during the first night’s main session when his arch rival, Gerhardt, makes a surprise appearance on the stage.  When Abe returns to his room late that night, he finds Gerhardt’s dead body.  Naturally, the police think Abe looks good as the killer, but Eli doesn’t think Abe could have done it.  Eli can’t help but poke around a bit as the convention continues.  Will he be able to clear Abe?

The story moves forward at a steady pace.  The scenes involving magic always work in a clue, tidbit, or twist to drive the story forward.  A couple of sub-plots help keep things moving as well.  I had zeroed in on the culprit early on, but I wasn’t completely sure (I can talk myself out of everything when reading a mystery), so I was quite happy reading on to see if I was right.

Since Eli, Harry, and Abe are out of town, we don’t see as much of the rest of the regulars.  That’s disappointing in some ways since the previous book in the series was a series prequel.  However, the little bit we did see of them was fun and helped me get over that.  Here’s hoping the next book is in the present and at home.  The fact that we had fewer series regulars might be a blessing since we meet a wide variety of characters at the convention, and this gives us time to get to know them better.

If you are worried about this book spoiling the fun of magic for you, don’t be.  While there is lots of talk of magic, none of it gets into specifics about how various tricks are done.  However, if you aren’t careful, you might find yourself wanting to learn some magic yourself.

Now that I’ve reacquainted myself with Eli and his magical world, I’m hoping we get to visit him again sooner rather than later.  If you are already a fan, you’ll welcome The Magic Square.  If you haven’t started this fun series yet, you’ll be hooked faster than you can say “Abracadabra.”

Missing a trick?  Here are the rest of the Eli Marks Mysteries in order.

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