Publisher: Sourcebooks Landmark
Publishing Date: January 13
Genre: historical fiction, mystery
The Amazing Arden is the most famous female illusionist of her day, renowned for her notorious trick of sawing a man in half on stage. One night in Waterloo, Iowa, with young policeman Virgil Holt watching from the audience, she swaps her trademark saw for a fire ax. Is it a new version of the illusion, or an all-too-real murder? When Arden’s husband is found lifeless beneath the stage later that night, the answer seems clear. But when Virgil happens upon the fleeing magician and takes her into custody, she has a very different story to tell. Even handcuffed and alone, Arden is far from powerless—and what she reveals is as unbelievable as it is spellbinding. Over the course of one eerie night, Virgil must decide whether to turn Arden in or set her free… and it will take all he has to see through the smoke and mirrors.
Young, infamous female magician Arden has one night to convince a police officer that she did not kill her husband on stage during one of her most notorious tricks: The Halved Man. While he wants her to begin her story with that particular night, she decides to tell him her life story, the story of how she became a magician. How else can he best understand any of her motives? From the pampered rooms in the city, to barns in the farmlands, from stage dances to railcar shows, Arden reveals herself little by little to the police officer. But is she lying? And if she is, is she lying about the murder — or herself?
This really is a mixture of Night Circus — the elaborate lifestyle, traveling by train for a show a night, the magic of it all — meets Water for Elephants — the darker elements of abuse and psychological distraught. Arden’s life is governed by the desire to flee a boy who wasn’t right in the mind, a truly dangerous and terrifying character that left me just as much on edge as he left Arden. Arden’s desire to become a dancer is what lead her to the magic show, and her diligence, determination, and strict practice turned her into the success she is at the scene of the crime.
The twist — the lie, and what kind of lie and where in the story and why — is what really kept me moving. The breaks between Arden’s story and her open discussions with the police gave the reader some insight as to where she might potentially be lying, but I’ll admit I almost skipped those passages simply because it was an interruption in Arden’s story. My advice? Don’t skip those passages. Search for the lie not only in the tale she spins to the police officer — to you — but also in those interruptions. The tiniest lines can give you the clues. And you’ll be guessing all the way to the end.
Thank you, Edelweiss, for sharing this book from Sourcebooks for review!