Published: January 13, 2015
Genre: Historical Fiction
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.
Oh my goodness, a traveling magic show with some real magic thrown in! How can I resist that?
I was immediately drawn in to this book by the initial setting--a murder and a magician on the run. Officer Virgil Holt is drawn as down-on-his luck young man and the one least likely to capture a fugitive (he made me think of Colin Hanks' character in TV's Fargo). I think that the officer would have to be a character such as that, or else Arden's revelations would feel contrived. Arden is a fantastic character We get her entire life story and it is clear from early on that she is a survivor. I found myself admiring her and rooting for her throughout this book.
I enjoyed Macallister's writing style and found her voice to be clear and lyrical. One thing I did like about her writing is that things never seemed to unfold how you would think they would. You could be reading along and feeling pretty sure you knew what was coming next, and then something else entirely would happen. As for the resolution of the story, I will say that I did figure out what happened, but only very shortly before it actually did. I was just as sucked into Arden's tale as Virgil was.
I did have one complaint--and this is probably something only picky people who write too many book reviews might notice. The chapters alternate between Arden telling her story in the first person to Virgil and conversations on the night of the rest between Arden and Virgil, told in third person. For me, there wasn't enough difference in voice between these two. The style of Arden telling the story is the same style of Arden and Virgil's conversations. Also, the chapters or Arden telling her own story didn't sound to me like someone telling someone a story--it just felt like a novel written in first person. It didn't read like an oral recitation of someone's life, but rather as, well, just as a novel.
Again, though, that is really down to the nitty gritty and, honestly, it didn't bother me too much. All in all, this was a fascinating and interesting book that I would happily recommend to others.
I received an electronic copy of this book in return for an honest review. I received no other compensation for this post.