From the beloved, award-winning, bestselling author of The Cellist of Sarajevo, a beautiful, suspense-filled novel that uses the life and sudden death of Harry Houdini to weave a magical tale of intrigue, love and illusion.
The Confabulist weaves together the life, loves and murder of the world's greatest magician, Harry Houdini, with the story of the man who killed him (twice): Martin Strauss, an everyday man whose fate was tied to the magician's in unforeseen ways. A cast of memorable characters spins around Houdini's celebrity-driven life, as they did in his time: from the Romanov family soon to be assassinated, to Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and the powerful heads of Scotland Yard, and the Spiritualists who would use whoever they could to establish their religion. A brilliant novel about fame and ambition, reality and illusion, and the ways that love, grief and imagination can alter what we perceive and believe.
From the author of The Cellist of Sarajevo comes this colorful but hard-to-swallow reimagining of Harry Houdini's life and death. The book opens with narrator Martin Strauss asserting, "I didn't just kill Harry Houdini. I killed him twice." Strauss is Galloway's fictionalized version of the young man who famously punched the famed illusionist in the stomach at a theater in Montreal in 1926, rupturing Houdini's appendix, which caused his death two days later. Or did it? The hypothesis that Houdini may have survived is the book's biggest (and most outrageous) conceit one that may test readers' patience and credulity. As Martin pursues the "dead" Houdini while trying to evade conspirators who want him silenced, evocative flashbacks limn Houdini's rise to stardom, his great illusions, and his crusade to expose mediums and other charlatans. All this is well-trod ground, but what is different is the use Galloway makes of a recent idea in Houdini lore: that he worked for U.S. and British intelligence "the skills of a magician and the skills of a spy were nearly identical." Galloway makes this notion somewhat believable, but the basic premise of this stylish but convoluted novel Houdini's survival remains difficult to accept.