Author: J.B. Rivard
Publisher: Self Published
Type of book: magic, magicians, illusions, magic acts, secrets, marriage, power struggle, assassination attempt, Chicago Illinois, mystery, creativity, thriller, sepia toned novel
Year it was published: 2015
The withering of vaudeville was bad enough in 1933. Because of the Great Depression, bookings for stage magician Nick Zetner disappeared. With his marriage cracking under the strain, Nick reluctantly accepts a devious banker’s deal: He earns a generous reward if he retrieves photos stolen during a break-in at the bank. Along the way, a love he thought he’d forever lost reappears. Despite his skill in the arts of magic, penetrating the realm of the thieves grows increasingly perilous, especially when it endangers his newfound romance.
Illusions of Magic seamlessly merges this tale with the true-life assassination attempt on President-elect Franklin D. Roosevelt resulting in Chicago’s mayor, Anton Cermak, being shot. His lingering death and a lack of legal means for his replacement causes great civic and social upheaval in the city.
In modern style, this novel propels the reader through emotional highs and subterranean lows with knife-edged dialogue, easy humor, page-turning action and authentic history.
Main characters include Nick Zetner, a loyal and talented magician who is going through difficult times with his act during the Great Depression when his wife decides to dump him. Nick is very resourceful, clever, creative and loyal. Nick also continues to carry torch for Iris, the one who got away. Liver Jack is Nick's wife's brother and he and Nick seem to get along very well. Liver Jack also has high connections which he uses to help those he cares about. Iris is Nick's first love and has her own worries and secrets when it comes to life. She is sweet, a bit impetuous and loyal. Aside from that, the secondary characters are also well written and they also have big personalities and motivations.
Love comes in different shapes and forms
The story is in third person narrative from Nick's point of view as well as Liver Jack's and perhaps few other characters. The story definitely has an interesting arc to it because it starts with one thing but it ends with another mystery being solved. While there is involvement with FDR and the attempted assassination on him, most of it feels like an aftershock rather than being in the epicenter. The characters were not witnesses to the attempted assassination, but they did witness and participate in the power struggle when the current mayor has passed away.
Probably like others, today people often associate illustrations with something for children, or else with either graphic novels or comic books. It's rare to find a book that has illustrations and that is not a graphic novel or is not designed for kids. While reading the book, I felt as if I went back in time and am watching a movie from the Golden Era of Hollywood; something fun and entertaining for everyone. I'm not sure if its because of illustrations or of how meticulously the story was told, but I really enjoyed the story and the mystery with larger than life characters and I do hope that Nick makes more appearances in the future installments. I think that I also would have liked more instances of Nick's magic acts.
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4 out of 5
(0: Stay away unless a masochist 1: Good for insomnia 2: Horrible but readable; 3: Readable and quickly forgettable, 4: Good, enjoyable 5: Buy it, keep it and never let it go.)