Giveaway ends 7/24
Detective fiction began with a locked door scenario and the concept still provides the basis for awesome armchair sleuthing. When I read a mystery I almost always know who the bad guy is long before the literary sleuth comes close. I love a good story so I read to the end to find out why. When I haven’t got a clue as to who or why or in this case, how, That is a book I will share with one and all. “Hey, I never saw it coming!!!”
Just the title of this book, Death and the Conjuror, was enough to make me want to review it. It inspires images of old fashioned mysteries; of Agatha Christie’s golden age detectives; a classic mystery with a full cast of characters all with something to indict them. I hoped the story would live up to the title, of course, it did. With its classic “It was a dark and stormy night” narration, this story is not just one locked door murder but several crimes all perpetrated in a seemingly impossible manner. It starts with the murder of a prominent doctor found obviously murdered, in a room locked from the inside with no weapon to be found, and only a small time frame in which it could have occurred. Scotland Yard Inspector Flint turns to an old friend, retired magician, Joseph Spector for help. We can assume he is ready to take his place among the great literary detectives based on his name alone, he also proves to be cool, and logical with a touch of drama. He and Flint hunt for the solution to the puzzles through many classic twists and turns until the magic facade is dropped for Spector’s logical explanations. Yeah, I never saw it coming.
I am so hoping this is the beginning of a long and prolific series involving these characters.
I received an advance review copy for free from Partners In Crime Virtual Book Tours, and I am leaving this review voluntarily.
Death and the Conjuror
by Tom Mead
June 27 – July 24, 2022
Virtual Book Tour
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.
Praise for Death and the Conjuror:
“This debut, a tribute to John Dickson Carr and other Golden Age masters of the locked-room mystery, will appeal to nostalgia buffs and fans of the classics”
Library Journal, April 2022 (**STARRED REVIEW**, Debut of the Month)
“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. […] Mead maintains suspense throughout, creating a creepy atmosphere en route to satisfying reveals. Puzzle mystery fans will eagerly await the sequel.”
Publishers Weekly, April 2022 (**STARRED REVIEW**)
“Mead’s debut novel is a valentine to the locked-room puzzles of John Dickson Carr, to whom it is dedicated […] Mead faithfully replicates all the loving artifice and teasing engagement of golden-age puzzlers in this superior pastiche.”
Kirkus Reviews, April 2022
Published by: Mysterious Press
Publication Date: July 12th 2022
Number of Pages: 254
ISBN: 1613163193 (ISBN13: 9781613163191)
Series: Joseph Spector #1
Book Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads | The Mysterious Bookshop
Read an excerpt:
Olive already had the phone in her hand. “Two three one, Dollis Hill,” she announced. “Dr. Anselm Rees has been murdered.”
While she provided a few scant details, she looked around the room and noticed something.
“The windows are locked,” she said as she hung up the phone.
“Mm?” Della sounded startled.
“The windows. They’re locked on the inside.” To prove this, she gripped one of the handles and rattled it. It would not move, and the key protruded from the lock.
“Then how did the killer get away?”
“What do you mean?”
“He can’t have come out through the hall. I was there the whole time. And not five minutes ago—not five minutes—I can tell you that the doctor was alive and well in this room because I heard him talking on the telephone.”
Della thought about this. “It can’t be locked.” She reached out and tried the handle for herself. But the windows did not budge.
“It’s locked on the inside,” said Olive, “just like the door.”
Della turned and looked at the corpse. He had sunk down in the chair like an unmanned hand puppet.
In the far corner of the room lay the wooden trunk. Olive caught Della’s eye and nodded toward it. Della frowned incredulously. Olive shrugged, as if to say, Where else would he be?
The two women crept across the soft plush carpet toward the trunk. Olive looked at Della and held a finger to her lips. She seized the poker from the fireplace and raised it above her head. Then she gave Della a quick nod.
Della leaned forward and wrenched open the trunk.
Olive let fly a fierce war cry and swung the poker like a tennis racquet. But all she hit was empty air. The two women peered inside the trunk. It was perfectly empty.
Olive led the way to the kitchen—but not before pulling shut the study door behind her, sealing in the late Dr. Rees once again.
They both felt slightly better after a tot of brandy. No less horrified, but more prepared to deal with the practicalities of the situation.
“What I don’t understand,” Della said, “is where the killer could have gone.”
“Nowhere,” said Olive. “There was nowhere for him to go.”
Excerpt from Death and the Conjuror by Tom Mead. Copyright 2022 by Tom Mead. Reproduced with permission from Tom Mead. All rights reserved.
Tom Mead is a UK crime fiction author specialising in locked-room mysteries. He is a member of the Crime Writers’ Association, International Thriller Writers, and the Society of Authors. He is a prolific author of short fiction, and recently his story “Heatwave” was included in THE BEST MYSTERY STORIES OF THE YEAR 2021, edited by Lee Child. DEATH AND THE CONJUROR is his first novel.
Catch Up With Our Author:
Twitter – @TomMeadAuthor
Facebook – @tommeadauthor
Plus, join the Instagram – #TomMead Party
Visit these other great hosts on this tour for more great reviews, interviews, guest posts, and giveaways!
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Great review! Thanks so much.
This does sound like an interesting read!
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Thank you so much for this lovely review!
LikeLiked by 1 person
It was well earned. Stop by when the next book is out.
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I would be honoured!
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My suspicion is that few readers will be able to solve each of the various impossibilities Mead presents. I myself was confident that I had met the challenge and painstakingly explained to my wife precisely who the culprit was before I read the concluding chapter. Needless to say, I was wrong; I had been thoroughly bamboozled by one of Mead’s numerous red herrings.