A Publishers Weekly Top 10 Best Mysteries of 2022 Selection
In this "sharply-drawn period piece" (New York Times), a magician-turned-sleuth in pre-war London solves three impossible crimes
In 1930s London, celebrity psychiatrist Anselm Rees is discovered dead in his locked study, and there seems to be no way that a killer could have escaped unseen. There are no clues, no witnesses, and no evidence of the murder weapon. Stumped by the confounding scene, the Scotland Yard detective on the case calls on retired stage magician-turned-part-time sleuth Joseph Spector. For who better to make sense of the impossible than one who traffics in illusions?
Spector has a knack for explaining the inexplicable, but even he finds that there is more to this mystery than meets the eye. As he and the Inspector interview the colorful cast of suspects among the psychiatrist’s patients and household, they uncover no shortage of dark secrets—or motives for murder. When the investigation dovetails into that of an apparently-impossible theft, the detectives consider the possibility that the two transgressions are related. And when a second murder occurs, this time in an impenetrable elevator, they realize that the crime wave will become even more deadly unless they can catch the culprit soon.
A tribute to the classic golden-age whodunnit, when crime fiction was a battle of wits between writer and reader, Death and the Conjuror joins its macabre atmosphere, period detail, and vividly-drawn characters with a meticulously-constructed fair play puzzle. Its baffling plot will enthrall readers of mystery icons such as Agatha Christie and John Dickson Carr, modern masters like Anthony Horowitz and Elly Griffiths, or anyone who appreciates a good mystery.
Set in London, Mead's stellar debut and series launch, an homage to golden age crime fiction, in particular the works of John Dickson Carr, introduces magician Joseph Spector. In 1936, Spector's Scotland Yard friend, Insp. George Flint, consults him in the baffling case of Austrian psychotherapist Anselm Rees. The doctor was found dead in his study with his throat slit so deeply that his head was almost decapitated. As the room's door and windows were locked, Flint hopes Spector, a master of conjuring tricks and misdirection, can explain how anyone could have committed the crime and left the room sealed. The pair pursue the theory that the murder was a revenge killing after learning that one of Rees's Viennese patients cut his own throat in a similar manner. Meanwhile, they must also probe two other cases: the apparently connected murder of a possible witness in an elevator that no one but the victim had access to, and the impossible theft of a rare artwork. Mead maintains suspense throughout, creating a creepy atmosphere en route to satisfying reveals. Puzzle mystery fans will eagerly await the sequel.