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The Murder Wheel

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I read Tom Mead’s previous book in this series and I was not particularly convinced, nevertheless I thought I would give the sequel a read, but sadly I remain ambivalent. An ex-conjurer is still an unconvincing choice as an amateur detective and Inspector Flint is still a pretty poor policeman. The Americanisms are all still there – phoney, courthouse, ferris wheel, effectuate – and Ibbs, a new character, is a pretty poor excuse for a solicitor.

As with the previous story, there are glaring inconsistencies and stupidities that make the story faintly ridiculous, and the characters bumbling buffoons. Inspector Flint seems overly eager to talk to a defence solicitor, which is not at all usual for a policeman. Ibbs, a fully qualified lawyer, asks Flint whether he is under arrest when merely talking to him about a dead body – he is not even being interviewed, nor had he been cautioned. There was much talk about the possibility of a revolver being slipped into a woman’s handbag without her knowledge, as if such a thing was possible. A revolver is not exactly weightless and the woman would have to be witless for such a thing to be feasible.

Mead has Joseph Spector visit Ibbs in Holloway Prison the middle of the night. There is no way that this would have been possible – not even with Flint’s sanction – and involves a suspension of disbelieve that is too much to expect from an intelligent reader. Ibbs again shows us ineptitude as a lawyer by contemplating an escape from prison. As a lawyer he should realise exactly the position this would put him in, even if he is innocent. In one scene Ibbs is found unconscious with a dead body and a gun glued to his hand. As ridiculous as this situation is for a detective story, it is taken as read that Ibbs is guilty, despite the fact that no glue is found in the room, nor on Ibbs’s body. Perhaps ex-magician Spector made it disappear! As the story gets more and more ridiculous, while admitting that it would indeed be an idiotic way to commit a murder, Flint arrests Ibbs even though there is no evidence against him at all.

The whole book is a mess of inconsistencies, irrelevancies and improbabilities, resulting in a very unsatisfying story indeed. And Ibbs is too foolish even to work out the assistance revenge trick, which I worked out as soon as he had described it. There is only one way in which it could be done.

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🎡𝓑𝓸𝓸𝓴 𝓡𝓮𝓿𝓲𝓮𝔀🎡

‘The Murder Wheel’ by Tom Mead


‘They shared the same conscious absence of ornament. Dećor as a psychological weapon’

What a fantastic and truly classic take on a good, solid murder mystery. I devoured this fun, mysterious, and murderously charming novel by Tom Mead.

Here in Australia, the last few weeks have been either 36 degrees or bucketing rain - and on those rainy days in became completely engrossed in this novel. It has an Agatha Christie-like appeal with plenty of characters to complicate the plot and furnish the already mysterious undertakings. I specifically appreciated the mix of occupations represented - from Lawyer, to Police Detective, to Magician, they each formed a vital part of the plot.

If you’re looking for an easy read that will bust any reading slump, ‘The Murder Wheel’ is for you.

Thank you to Head of Zeus for a copy to review!

⭐️⭐️⭐️ ⭐️

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This is the second book in Tom Mead’s Joseph Spector mystery series, following last year’s wonderful Death and the Conjuror. If you haven’t read the first book yet and want to start with this one it won’t be a problem as the two deal with standalone mysteries.

The Murder Wheel begins in London in 1938 with lawyer Edmund Ibbs visiting a client, Carla Dean, in Holloway Prison. Carla is awaiting trial for the murder of her husband while they were riding on a Ferris Wheel together at the fair. As the only other person in the carriage when a shot was fired at close range – and with her fingerprints all over the alleged murder weapon – suspicion has naturally fallen on Carla. Ibbs’ job is to prove that she is innocent, but it’s going to be a difficult task!

When he’s not investigating crimes, Edmund Ibbs is pursuing a secondary career as an amateur magician and has just received a copy of a highly controversial new book, The Master of Manipulation, which promises to give away all the secrets of the art of magic. After his visit to Carla in prison, Ibbs heads for the Pomegranate Theatre to watch a performance by the great illusionist, Professor Paolini. When another suspicious death occurs during the magic show, Ibbs finds himself in the wrong place at the wrong time and discovers that he is now a suspect in another murder case! Are the crimes connected? Luckily, retired magician Joseph Spector is on hand to solve the mystery.

The Murder Wheel is another entertaining novel, but I didn’t enjoy it quite as much as the first book, mainly because I found it so complicated. There are eventually three separate seemingly impossible crimes to solve and I struggled to keep track of all the different threads of the story. There’s a lot of focus on the murder methods and the intricacies of how each one was committed, and although the solutions do all make sense, I could never have worked them out; I completely failed Mead’s ‘challenge to the reader’ near the end of the book, even though we’re told that the clues have all been provided in the text (and when the solutions are finally revealed, there are footnotes linking back to where each clue first appears).

I do love the partnership between Joseph Spector and Inspector Flint of Scotland Yard; they work together so well because one of them is using traditional methods of detecting such as questioning suspects and searching for evidence, while the other is more concerned with how his knowledge of illusions and sleight of hand can show how the crime was carried out. Magic plays a bigger part in this book than it did in the first one and I enjoyed that aspect of the story; it was interesting to get some insights into the backstage preparations for a magic show and how some of the tricks are performed, although I can see why some of the characters were unhappy with the author of The Master of Manipulation revealing all their secrets!

Tom Mead is a fan of Golden Age detective novels, particularly of the ‘locked room’ or ‘impossible crime’ types, and I think he does a good job overall of capturing the feel of a 1930s mystery – although with this book, I never felt that I really was reading a 1930s mystery, the way I did with the first one. I’m not sure exactly what was different, but that’s another reason why I preferred Death and the Conjuror. Still, I will probably read the third book in this series, assuming there’s going to be one!

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I recently had the pleasure of hearing Tom Mead discuss his Joseph Spector series at Capital Crime and immediately after the panel bought a copy of the first book, Death and the Conjuror. My review for that is coming soon but having read both novels, I am able to confirm that this sequel can easily be enjoyed as a standalone too.
The first locked room mystery of this Golden Age era crime novel has already occurred at the start of the book and gives The Murder Wheel its name. Carla Dean is awaiting trial for the murder of her husband, Dominic after he was fatally shot at close range while the pair were at the top of a ferris wheel. It's fallen to young solicitor Edmund Ibbs to build the case for her defence and it's immediately obvious that he is sure to become consumed by this strange and highly publicised mystery. The start of the book introduces Edmund as being fascinated by the art of magic and illusions. He has just taken possession of 'The Master of Manipulation' a book which reveals the innermost workings of stage magic. He is reluctant to leave the book when it's time for him to head for his appointment with Carla Dean but as he becomes drawn into an investigation with a rising body count and two more perplexing locked room mysteries, it becomes clear that fiendish cunning manipulation – of both characters and readers – lies at the heart of this clever novel.
This might be a Joseph Spector book but Ibbs is a wonderful character too; a hugely likeable everyman whose boundless curiosity after a second baffling murder takes place, this time on stage at the Pomegranate Theatre, finds him dangerously involved in the investigation. Spector is also present at Professor Paolini's ill-fated comeback show, which is fortunate for poor Inspector Flint who has to figure out which of the potential suspects – who all seem to have alibis – could have perpetrated such an audaciously brilliant crime.
The second victim is connected to the Murder Wheel case and with a previous brutal murder also possibly linked to the death of Dominic Dean, this labyrinthine mystery novel is a complex and hugely entertaining read throughout. There are, of course, several red herrings and surprising twists and turns and it's impossible not to feel sympathetic towards Flint who is faced with evidence which is simultaneously both damning and ludicrous. I rather like the inspector, he may have a tendency to try to make the evidence fit the crime but he is honest and ready to consult the brilliant, shrewdly observant Spector. It's the old trickster himself who is the most irresistible character, of course. Described as having a Mephistolean smile, this singular illusionist is a captivatingly unnerving creation who springs from the page in this vividly atmospheric murder mystery.
The sense of time and place is hugely impressive throughout The Murder Wheel, perfectly complementing the excellent characterisation – a word here for Martha, the magician's assistant, who is particularly memorable – and the intricately plotted storyline. As with Death and the Conjuror, there's a wonderful interlude where the reader is invited to 'unravel the tangled skein for yourself' but my attempts to figure out whodunnit proved to be sadly woeful. If you love intelligent, elegantly intriguing locked room mysteries then look no further than Tom Mead's books; The Murder Wheel is first-rate crime fiction and I very highly recommend it.

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Amateur magician Edmund Ibbs is looking forward to reading his new book, written by an unknown author and spilling the secrets of magic tricks.

Unfortunately he has to put it to one side as he has a job as a lawyer, currently on the defence team of a woman in prison for murdering her husband in the ‘ferris wheel’ murder case. She is adamant she is innocent.

Was her husband an inside man for the robbery at the bank he worked at which resulted in the murder of the security guard?

When he finishes work, Ibbs then visits a theatre to watch Paolini, a famous magician. Only now he is at the centre of more murders at the theatre, which initially appear to be impossible to solve. Are they linked to the ferris wheel murder?

It felt like I was reading a Sherlock Holmes novel. However Joseph Spector, a retired magician, is the Holmes character in this novel, and in this series of novels, helping the police with cases which appear to involve some kind of magic or illusion. For me, Ibbs was more the main character in this one. Doing his best to defend a woman in what the police think is an open and shut case.

An enjoyable read. Very cleverly plotted. Impossible to work out! I will be going back and reading the first in this series.

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‘No matter how large or small an illusion, there is one thing to remember: your audience is in front of you. Keep them there. —The Master of Manipulation, “Ruminations”

1938, London. Young lawyer Edmund Ibbs has a new client: a woman accused of shooting her husband in the already infamous 'Ferris Wheel Murder' case.

The case proves to be a web of conspiracy, and Ibbs himself is accused when a second suspicious death occurs, during a magic act at the crowded Pomegranate Theatre.

Also present at the theatre is Joseph Spector, illusionist turned highly respected sleuth. Spector begins to investigate the mystery, but when another body is discovered later that same night, all evidence points to Ibbs being guilty.

With time against him, and a host of hangers-on all having something to hide, can Spector uncover the guilty party, or will he and Inspector Flint of Scotland Yard conclude that Ibbs is the culprit after all?

‘The art of magic, he read, lies in the manipulation of perception. Most people will look exactly where you want them to; all you have to do is tell them. It is simply a matter of guiding their attention in the correct direction, so that they are never looking at the trick as it is being worked.’

This novel is locked room mystery perfection, it set my mind whirling with possibilities and I love a challenge!

‘It’s true that all the evidence is there, and in plain sight too. If there are any would-be sleuths amongst you, now is the time to make yourselves known.’

Well as the quote says the evidence is in plain sight, but could I see it? NO! It is so so clever, I was very much Ibbs in this, solid, picking a way at the clues but unable to unravel them. I am most definitely not Spector, whose neat description of the mystery at the end was worthy of Christie herself!

If you love golden age crime, you will adore this book and I highly recommend it, one to tax the little grey cells that is for sure and be spectacularly entertained along the way!

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I haven’t read Death and the Conjuror, the first book featuring illusionist turned sleuth Joseph Spector, so waiting for him to appear in this one was like awaiting the start of the main act. Actually I’m being rather unfair to young lawyer and amateur magician. Edmund Ibbs, who carries a good deal of the first part of the book. I found him a really engaging, sympathetic figure although, as the book progresses, you learn that not everyone may be exactly what they seem. What, even Edmund? Well, he does find himself in a rather incriminating situation…

A theatre makes the perfect setting for a murder mystery because it’s all about artifice, make believe and playing a part. Add set, lighting and costume changes and you create situations designed to confuse, amuse, shock or surprise. And none of the audience can see what’s going on backstage whilst a performance is taking place.

Illusionist Joseph Spector possesses Sherlock Holmes’s observational ability plus a magician’s knowledge of techniques with which to distract an audience, techniques which, as it turns out, are equally useful when trying to commit a murder and, importantly, get away with it. Or, even better, frame someone else for it. In fact, Spector regards a crime as being much like a magic trick, as ‘a complex network of deceptions’. Inspector Flint’s approach, which Spector rather disparagingly describes as ‘making the facts fit the solution’, provides a counterpoint to Spector’s lateral thinking and sparks of genius. As Spector boasts, ‘I can spot an inconsistency like no man on earth’. And, boy, can he.

There were lots of things I loved about the book, such as the character names that were so unusual I was convinced they must be anagrams. Or the chapter near the end which invites the reader to put all the facts together (apparently all ‘in plain sight’) and come up with a solution. And, as the solution is revealed, the footnotes directing you back to the page on which a relevant piece of information appeared. Or to be more accurate, the pages on which the pieces of information you totally overlooked appeared.

Never mind rotating on a Ferris wheel, my head was spinning by the end of the book such is the intricacy of the plot and the number of red herrings and false trails the author has subtly inserted into the story.

The Murder Wheel is a skilfully crafted and very entertaining crime mystery that will have you scratching your head whilst speedily turning the pages to find out what happens next. Definitely one for fans of ‘Golden Age’ crime fiction.

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This is the second book in Tom Mead’s second book in Joseph Spector series and it begins with Edward Ibbs, a lawyer and amateur magician on his way to Holloway Prison to meet his latest client Carla Lane who is charged with the murder of her husband in The Ferris Wheel Murder Case.

She explains that she and her husband were on the Ferris wheel when he was shot, she says she is not guilty but there was no one else there. Ibbs starts to investigate another case which has occurred which may be linked. Ibbs is recommended to speak to Joseph Spector, a retired musical conjurer who also explains how crimes that look impossible quite often have an explanation.

I was delighted to return to the world of Joseph Spector. I love a locked room mystery and this one did appear to be unfathomable. I am not giving any spoilers because this is a book that you need to read slowly to absorb the cleverness. If you like magic, locked room mysteries and intrigue this is the book for you ! I really enjoyed it.

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Do you believe in magic? Well, maybe not, but I do believe in the power of illusions and magicians who are adept at practicing their craft. For the best magicians, it is of course, an art.

I haven’t read the first in the series, but that did not diminish my enjoyment of this book at all. Though this is a Joseph Spector investigation, the reader will find three different investigators in this book; Spector himself; Edmund Ibbs, a young solicitor with his own interest in the art of magic, who has a personal stake in finding the perpetrator and Police Inspector George Flint.

Joseph Spector is a wonderful character, saturnine, a chain smoker of filthy, pungent cigarillos and an absinthe drinker – could there be any one more Mephistopholean?

This really has all the feels of a Golden Age mystery. Set in London in 1938, three impossible locked room crimes take place. Dominic Dean, a bank manager, was atop a Ferris wheel with his wife, Carla when he was fatally shot. Carla, being the only occupant of the Ferris wheel compartment must therefore be the killer. But Edmund Ibbs is Carla’s solicitor and convinced of Carla’s innocence and he sets out to prove the police wrong.

Ibbs is a huge fan of magicians and illusionists and has recently purchased a hard to find book called The Master of Manipulation, which is said to reveal all the secrets of the magician’s art. He is excited about his forthcoming attendance at the Pomegranate Theatre for a performance by noted magician, Professor Paolini who has been on a world tour and has just returned to England.

It is at the theatre that everything becomes altogether more complicated. There are two more murders, both equally impossible, one as part of a magic act onstage, and one backstage in which Edmund Ibbs himself is implicated.

It’s going to take all the ingenuity of Joseph Spector, also fortunately attending Paolini’s performance, to sort out how these events are connected, who is responsible and to exonerate young Edmund.

Tom Mead’s story is fiendishly constructed, and has not just one but three hard to solve murders each a genuine locked room puzzle. His characters are beautifully drawn; his motives are well thought through and best of all he challenges the reader. There’s a point towards the end of the book when he tells the reader that they now have all the clues they need to solve these mysteries. And once he has Spector lay out the resolution, he annotates the parts of the book where these clues are planted.

It’s all wonderfully clever and very satisfying, even if I did only get a third of the way towards solving these mysteries.

There’s arguably a little too much action going on in the Pomegranate Theatre, but if you can relax into it, it is hugely enjoyable. Spector is a curious character, settling for being in the background a lot of the time, watching and it is Edmund who feels like the leading character, then he himself becomes the accused. The police inspector, George Flint, is perhaps too much in thrall to Spector, but overall these are strong characters who come together well. There’s even a bit of romance thrown in for good measure.

Verdict: I enjoyed these locked room mysteries in The Murder Wheel greatly. This is a gently told, intelligently contrived story that absolutely encompasses all the best elements of a Golden Age mystery. It has a fabulously well executed plot for which there is substantive motivation, really interesting characters and a provocative challenge to the reader that engages. The Murder Wheel is a thoroughly enjoyable addition to all the classic Golden Age mysteries.

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I would like to thank Netgalley and Aria & Aries for an advance copy of The Murder Wheel, the second novel to feature retired stage magician Joseph Spector and Inspector Flint of Scotland Yard, set in 1938.

Joseph Ibbs, a newly qualified lawyer, is defending Carla Dean, who is accused of murdering her husband on a Ferris wheel. Open and shut, or maybe not as Ibbs investigates and then comes under suspicion himself when a body is found during a magic act at the Pomegranate Theatre. A third body seals the deal in Inspector Flint’s eyes. Fortunately Joseph Spector was at the performance and can help them out.

I thoroughly enjoyed The Murder Wheel, which is thought provoking as it offers three supposedly impossible murders and has some fun along the way. There is enough mystery to keep every reader occupied as they try to work it out, but I would take issue with one statement. Just before the denouement the author says that the reader has all the facts (and, in fact, provides page references to prove it), but it requires a certain amount of conjecture, lateral thinking and a couple of points that aren’t mentioned to make it solvable. A slight cheat, but why am I bothered as I didn’t come close to resolving it, except a couple of inklings that I can’t justify.

I have no visualisation skills and that is a bit of an issue with this novel as the resolution involves moving things and conjuring tricks. I think it would make great TV with the screen flashing back to a visual of how it is done and obviously the period detail would add a little glamour.

This is not a long novel so everything is important as it packs in a fair amount of action as well as the puzzle of who and why. It starts with Ibbs’s effort to investigate the Ferris Wheel murder, but it goes back a bit to a preceding event for context and moves forward at an alarming rate. There is plenty to chew on.

The Murder Wheel is an entertaining read that I have no hesitation in recommending.

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Earlier this year I read Death and the Conjurer (click for my review) and found myself eagerly anticipating the release of the second mystery featuring Joseph Spector. Well, the wait is over, and I have to say The Murder Wheel more than lived up to my very high expectations.

If you follow my reviews, you may have noticed I love mysteries. And if there is a hierarchy to my appreciation of mysteries, impossible/closed-room murders are at the top of my list. So, imagine my delight when I discovered that The Murder Wheel contains not one, nor two, but three such dilemmas. It is delightful when what appears to be impossible not only turns out to be feasible but also logical and so easy to understand after explanation that I want to slap my forehead for not having figured it out for myself. Better still, during the denouement, the author very kindly indicates what the clues were and where in the story they could (should) have been found.

I’m growing quite fond of the regular characters in these stories. Joseph Spector is a bit of an enigma. A retired stage magician, he now appears to spend most of his time in a pub which he treats more or less like his office. He appears to be an einzelgänger but does have a keen interest in people and there is very little he doesn’t notice and store away for future reference. Of course, making the main character and investigator of this series a retired magician is a stroke of genius. Who could be better equipped to see beyond the sleight of hand and recognise the ways in which the seemingly impossible can be pulled off?

Scotland Yard Inspector George Flint is the official investigator in these books and while it can certainly be said that Joseph Spector out-investigates him, he isn’t your stereotypical blundering yet arrogant policeman, far from it. He’s well aware of his limitations when it comes to these impossible crimes and what’s more, he is really invested in solving the cases which means he not only embraces but also seeks Spector’s assistance. He makes for a refreshing move away from a somewhat tired stereotype in mystery fiction.

This book offered a second refreshing aspect in Edmund Ibbs, a young lawyer and amateur magician. Most of the story is narrated from his perspective which means we get to observe Spector from more than one perspective. What’s more, his presence also means that we don’t get to see Spector as uniquely qualified to solve cases since Ibbs manages to solve at least one of the three cases on his own.

I really can’t praise this book and series enough. Well written, exquisitely plotted, and smoothly told, these Spector mysteries are a joy to read and come with satisfying and plausible—be it (almost) impossible to guess—solutions. Nothing short of spectacular!

I will be awaiting the publication of Joseph Spector #3 with a great deal of impatience and am delighted to discover that Tom Mead is already plotting the fourth instalment. 😊

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Two locked-room-mysteries and a murder on stage, what more can you ask for? Sounds great right? Unfortunatly, I don't think the execution of this concept was that great. It wasn't what I think it could have been, or tried to be.

First of all, and what annoyed me from the start, the writing style. This book is mostly dialogue, and barely any description. To me this made the story more difficult to read, and the characters felt a bit flat, because I was simply missing more descriptions of how the moved, and handled the situations. Now the characters just felt very flat, because you basically only got to know them through the conversations that were happening. The author should use more show than tell.

The second thing that bothered me was more towards the end of the book, when I realised that Joseph Spector was revealing how everything had happened, but I really felt like he had barely been active in this story. To me it was not shown that he was really trying to investigate the murders, and suddenly he knows how it all happened. It just felt wrong and unrealistic, and since this is a series based on Spector, I expected him to be more in the foreground. While actually Ibbs was taking centre stage the entire book.

And then the reveal of the who, why, and how of the last murder. The solution felt out of the blue to me, even with the footnotes referring to where things were mentioned in the story. I honestly feel like those points only add up if you know what the solution is, there is in my opinion no way that as a reader you could find the solution here, even though the author tries to make you feel like you could. Also in the acknowledgment the author mentions that this book is meant to be an ode to the locked room mysteries of the Golden Age, mentioning Agatha Christie as an example. And I can see how the big reveal in the end can be seen as an homage to Christie's Hercule Poirot, but the big reveal here just did not make sense, where with Christie's writing it does most of the time.

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Thank you to Aria / Aries and Net Galley for this ARC. I wasn't expecting another book in this series. The first was so good i was hesitant to read this one in case it wasn't as good but I was wrong. This second novel is just as good as the first and I hope there will be a third.

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1938, London, and Edward Ibbs is working on the case of the moment – the so-called “Ferris Wheel Murder”. Unfortunately, he is defending the only person who could have committed the crime.
Clara Dean was in a carriage on a Ferris Wheel with her husband, Dominic Dean, a man who seemed to be in fear of his life. When the carriage is at the top of the wheel, a shot rings out and Dominic lies dead. Yet Clara swears that she didn’t shot her husband – she looked away and then he was shot, the gun lying at his feet – and she also swears that he did not bring a gun with him into the car…
Convinced of her innocence, Ibbs find things become even more complicated when, as he visits the Pomegranate Theatre to see a magic show, another suspicious – and impossible – murder occurs. Thankfully Joseph Spector, magician-turned-sleuth is also there, but even he is struggling to find the truth of the matter – especially when a third murder, in the vein of the first, occurs inside a locked dressing room.
Well, someone likes The Judas Window, don’t they?
Hang on, I hear you cry, surely it still being September, this is supposed to be History Mystery Month, or whatever I ended up calling it. Well, if A Fatal Crossing can win an award for Best Historical, then this certainly counts as well. As I said with Death And The Conjuror, this is a spot-on recreation of the Golden Age, in particular the style of John Dickson Carr.
I mentioned the Judas Window, the tale of a man waking up inside a locked room with a dead body where they are the only person capable of committing the murder – here, Tom Mead gives us the same setting twice, but with wildly different solutions, and a third impossibility to baffle the reader. And the reader is expected to be baffled and to have to think about things, as evidenced by the Challenge To The Reader, and a solution with plenty of footnotes to the multitudes that you overlooked because they didn’t seem important.
The central characters are all strong. The idea of a new character being the focus while the sleuth hovers in the background is very Golden Age, as is the romance element of the story. The sense of time and place is well done too – nothing too overt, like name-dropping the King – but you would never believe this was set at any time other than the given date. There you go, it’s an historical mystery. Well, it’s not, pastiche’s really shouldn’t count, but it’s still a great recreation of the time.
As for the locked rooms, one is beautifully simple, one is a little more complex, but the central idea is clear and the third is complicated but easy to follow. I was a tad concerned with the various maps but they aren’t really necessary most of what is happening. There’s a misdirection near the end that I thought was a little obvious – maybe it’s supposed to be – and some interesting choices made by Spector.
Oh, and another thing that I really liked. Spector doesn’t solve the mystery until quite late in the day. None of the traditional “I know what’s going on but I’m not going to tell anyone until there are some more bodies (which definitely won’t be my fault)” stuff which always bothers me, so he behaves like quite a sensible character compared to some classic sleuths.
All in all, as you may be able to tell, I loved this one. It’s such a great homage to the greats and can sit side by side with many of them.
The Murder Wheel is out from Head Of Zeus in hardback and ebook on 12th October in the UK (it’s been out in the US for a while). Many thanks for the review copy.

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Deliciously Entertaining..
Joseph Spector is back in this, his second investigation, as the illusionist turned inimitable sleuth finds himself amidst a series of bizarre occurrences. It is 1938, London, and the ‘Ferris Wheel Murder’ case is already infamous and yet it is a case that continues to attract more and more threads to its already tangled web. Will Spector, along with Inspector Flint of Scotland Yard, be able to untangle this seemingly impossible case? In true Golden Age style, the reader is presented with another atmospheric gem of a read with a clever and twisting plot populated with a credible and distinctive cast of characters and a true puzzle at its very heart. Deliciously entertaining.

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I enjoyed the first in this series and had high hopes for this second outing, however I found this time the book was hard going and didn't hold my attention as much as the first. That aside I did enjoy the book but I felt the format was to similar to the first and at times I could almost have written the next line myself.
I do appreciate this could just be me and it would not stop me from recommending the book to friends. I just feel that there are a few better books out there,

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Death and the Conjuror was one of my top mystery novel of 2022 and Tom Mead is a lovely person who knows what he's talking about and know that a locked room and an impossible crime are two different type of crime.
This is enough to make me respect him. He also writes excellent whodunit that keeps you turning pages and try to solve the complex puzzle.
This is a book that features impossible crimes, one of them could be defined a locked room as there must be a way someone was killed.
This is the pleasure of a good whodunit: it keeps you guessing and makes try to solve the puzzle.
An very entertaining story featuring well developed characters and a solid mystery.
The world of theatre is fascinating as the stories of the characters.
I strongly recommend it if you love Golden Age Mystery and hope there will be a lot of stories featuring Joseph Spector
Many thanks to the publisher for this ARC, all opinions are mine

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I would describe this as an interesting read. The writing in general was good, and I felt it had a classic feel. At the start of the book, something felt enigmatic, and I was drawn in by that. As I read on, however, I didn't find myself warming to the characters, and I wondered if some readers may find the format s little bit confusing.

Thank you to NetGalley and the publishers for a free copy to review.

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Death and the Conjuror was a real surprise when I read it earlier this year. It was so masterful and harked back to the traditional locked-room mysteries, and I was so eager to read Tom's next offering.

These kind of books always amaze me. They're the long-loved locked room mystery, where the seemingly impossible must be possible. It's easy to believe in the context of the books and you as t he reader are trying to unpick the clues to find the truth at the same time as the characters. But for Tom, he has to know the start, middle and end, the whodunnits and the red herrings, the why, what, where, when, and, most importantly, who and how, and it blows my mind everytime.

The majority of this book is set in one of two locations, but the characters nor the story feel small. In fact, I'd say the small size of setting adds to the tension and terror and confusion faced by the characters. It creates this fast paced, curious story which is fabulous.

There are a number of characters, but once again Tom has focussed on a small cast, pivotal to the storyline, such as lawyer Edmund Ibbs, who I would say is our main player, and of course Inspector Flint, and Joseph Spector himself. They are joined by bankers and spouses, magicians, magicians' assistants, theatre workers, gambling men, criminals and whatnot. But the handful he has focussed on, he has given them so much time that you can really invest in their story.

I loved Death and the Conjuror, mainly for its similarities to the mysteries of old, much like Agatha Christie. And I knew there would be a second in the series, but was slightly concerned that it might be a bit repetitive, the same plot but with key players amended. But it's not. Okay, on a basic level it is - inexplicable murder, magician helps police solve crime etc etc. But it's too good to be seen at just that level. That would be like saying Agatha Christie's books are all the same, even though we know they aren't. In my opinion, I say Tom is a worthy addition to that list of great locked room murder mystery authors, and I am thoroughly hoping that this will continue for a good few more books yet.

What I love about it, and that goes for all of the genre, is that it all seems so impossible, so thrilling, there's twists and turns and red herrings and clues, and yet you still can't get there! But then it's all explained, and it's so obvious, and for me, that's the cleverest part of it all. What I will say - and I'll try to do it without any spoilers - there were the odd things about the explanation that felt at the very edge of too much, bits that felt a bit of a stretch for the imagination, but that's sort of what I want from a book like this. I don't want it to be 100% reality and 100% possible, because that would be a bit boring and not in keeping with the genre. I want a bit of magic and sparkle and spice and entertainment and fun, and that's what he offers in spades.

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