September 25, 2017 11:18 am Last modified: 7:54 am

The Bookworm: 'Magician’s Lie' Leaves You Feeling Sawed in Two

“The Magician’s Lie” by Greer Macallister
c.2015, Sourcebooks $23.99 320 pages

Abracadabra. Now you see it. Now you don’t – because a good magician knows to hide his props behind his fingers, beneath his clothes, in her pockets. And yet we flock to see that sleight of hand, the illusions, the chance to be awe-struck, entertained and fooled.

Now you see it. Now you don’t.

And in the new novel “The Magician’s Lie” by Greer Macallister, the only thing she’s hiding is the truth.

Officer Virgil Holt figured his life was over. Just that week, he’d learned that the bullet he carried in his body could kill him at any time. Once the sheriff found out, he’d strip Virgil of his badge; he’d lose his wife, his home, everything he’d worked for. So when a dead man was found in a theatre basement, gruesomely chopped in half, Virgil almost wished he could trade places.

But then something happened that could save him: Virgil captured The Amazing Arden, illusionist, wife of the dead man. Virgil had seen her stage show. He knew she cut men in two and he had her now, triple-handcuffed to a jailhouse chair.

He wanted a confession but instead, Arden began telling Virgil a story…

Once, long ago when she was called Ada, her mother taught her to dance and she had big plans. Then a cousin ruined everything by throwing Ada off a beam onto a barn floor. Just before fleeing for her life, she learned of her own healing powers.

As a runaway, Ada took a job as a kitchen maid where she met a boy and fell in love; he took her to New York, then broke her heart. Shortly afterward, she found work with a magic show, the owner of which taught Ada everything about illusion and about pleasing a crowd. Ada grew to crave applause.

When the man she loved came back into her life, Ada became Arden, famous for her daring stage shows. She was in love and happy until everything changed, all because of a fire and a chance meeting that nearly killed her.

She was a victim. She didn’t kill her husband. She didn’t know who did.

At least that’s what she said…

So you might be a little gullible. You know when someone’s fibbing – more or less. But the one thing you’ll know for sure when you read this book is that you’ve got a winner in your hands.

Set around the turn of the last century, “The Magician’s Lie” proves, like any good stage show, that our brains can easily deceive us: never mind the characters, we readers don’t truly know if Arden is spinning a fable or giving an alibi. I’m still reeling from the possibilities myself, because author Greer Macallister’s conjured up the kind of novel that pulls readers in, shakes us up and leaves us feeling sawed in two.

That and the lingering sense of having just been happily duped makes this one very satisfying novel and you know you want it. Go now, find “The Magician’s Lie,” and watch your time disappear.
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The Bookworm is Terri Schlichenmeyer. Terri has been reading since she was 3 years old and never goes anywhere without a book. She lives on a hill in Wisconsin with two dogs and 12,000 books. Her self-syndicated book reviews appear in more than 260 newspapers.

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