Wednesday, September 10, 2014

The Bullet Catch: (An Eli Marks Mystery #2)

Author:  John Gaspard
Genre:  Mystery

Five Stars
Newly-single magician Eli Marks reluctantly attends his high school reunion against his better judgment, only to become entangled in two deadly encounters with his former classmates. The first is the fatal mugging of an old crush’s husband, followed by the suspicious deaths of the victim’s business associates.
At the same time, Eli also comes to the aid of a classmate-turned-movie-star who fears that attempting The Bullet Catch in an upcoming movie may be his last performance. As the bodies begin to pile up, Eli comes to the realization that juggling these murderous situations -- while saving his own neck -- may be the greatest trick he’s ever performed.

Eli Marks is a professional magician who moved back in with his Uncle Harry, also a professional magician, after his divorce.  He lives above Harry's magic shop in Minneapolis.  He's in therapy trying to discover why his fear of heights has morphed into something worse.  Not merely a fear anymore, it has become a panic if he's anywhere near high areas.  This has definitely started taking over his life, and he needs to know why.
When he's asked by an old high school friend for help he agrees.  Jake, the friend, is now an actor who is making a movie about the life and death of an old magician, Terry Alexander.  It seems Terry died while trying to perform the bullet catch - the trick where someone shoots a bullet and the magician catches it in their mouth.  Harry and his magician cronies don't much like the trick; it seems no magician does, because the risk is too great (I ask you: how comfortable would you be with a bullet coming straight at your face?), so while Eli has reservations, he agrees to help Jake.
But before the movie starts filming, Jake convinces Eli to go to their fifteenth high school class reunion.  Which is in a hotel in Minneapolis.  High up.  Very high up.  And Eli has to take a glass elevator.  (I have to tell you, with Mr. Gaspard's imagery, my knees were getting weak just reading about it, and I'm not afraid of heights!)  Anyway, they connect with several friends, including Eli's high school crush, Trish.  It seems Trish married the school's "bad boy," Dylan, and is now regretting that decision.  She spends the evening reconnecting with Eli while Dylan spends his time flirting with other women.
But there's a surprise the next morning when Eli's ex-wife's (who is now the Assistant District Attorney) husband, a homicide detective, shows up at his door informing him that Dylan is dead, the victim of a mugging gone bad, and what does he know about it?  This is all news to Eli, who really doesn't know much.
Now here is where it gets sticky:  Eli, wanting to help Trish, the grieving widow, decides to do a little investigating on his own.  He is asked to do a party which turns out not to be a party:  He finds himself at the house of a very old man who obviously still has his wits about him.  He calls himself Harry Lime.  For those of you who don't know:  Harry Lime was the name of Orson Welles' character in The Third Man.  Let me tell you, they couldn't have gotten a better person to read this book, because I'm a huge, repeat: huge fan of classic movies (they're practically all I watch as far as film goes).  Anyway, Mr. Lime not only repeats movie lines, he has names for everyone involved in the murder.  Lucky me, I recognized them all before Mr. Gaspard had to explain.  (The one that stumped me at first was his name for Dylan, but after a few minutes I figured that one out because it was the only one that made sense.)  Anyway, Mr. Lime plays a pretty big part in this.
And then there's Jake, who is convinced the only way the movie will make money is if he really dies at the end, just like Alexander, and thinks the crew is planning on killing him for real.  So now on top of trying to solve the murder he has to convince his friend that he'll make sure he stays alive.  You also have Eli trying to navigate his his new relationship with his ex-wife, and his temporarily-on-hold relationship with Megan, the psychic who owns a shop down from his.  And, of course, there are Harry and his magician friends, who are fun to watch interact.
The first chapter in this book is riotously funny.  It begins with Eli and his new therapist, and ends on a hilarious note that made me glad I decided to read it.  I don't want to say anymore, because I don't want to give away too much of the plot.  I will say that I was born in Minneapolis so recognized quite a bit of the places he was talking about, which was nice.  And that I liked this book so much that when it is issued, I plan on buying few copies to give to relatives who still live there.  I liked it so well that I plan on reading the first in the series (sorry I missed it) and will continue on as long as Mr. Gaspard continues to write it.
A great read, interesting, funny and intriguing.  Highly recommended.

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A Souffle of Suspicion (A French Bistro Mystery #2)

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