The Murder Wheel

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Pub Date 12 Oct 2023 | Archive Date 12 Oct 2023
Aria & Aries, Head of Zeus -- an Aries Book

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Illusionist turned sleuth Joseph Spector investigates a sinister conundrum at a 1930s theatre in this thrilling new mystery novel from Tom Mead, author of Death and the Conjuror, one of Publishers Weekly's Mysteries of the Year 2022.

When Edmund Ibbs, a young lawyer, defends a woman accused of shooting her husband dead, he finds himself drawn into a web of conspiracy and murder.

Soon, Ibbs himself is accused of complicity in a killing, when a corpse unexpectedly appears as part of a magic act in a crowded theatre.

Also present is Joseph Spector, former illusionist turned highly respected amateur sleuth. Spector begins to investigate the mystery, but when a second body is discovered later the same night, all the evidence points to Ibbs being guilty.

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

Reviews for Tom Mead's Joseph Spector series:

'An intricate 'impossible' crime that completely fooled me.' Peter Lovesey
'A sharply drawn period piece with memorable characters.' New York Times
'Mead's debut is a novel to intrigue and delight.' John Connolly
'A true delight for mystery lovers!' Charles Todd
'A witty reconstruction of the classic locked room mystery, Tom Mead's debut is a sheer delight.' Maxim Jakubowski
'Mead maintains suspense throughout, creating a creepy atmosphere en route to satisfying reveals.' Publishers Weekly
'A real treat for mystery fans.' Ragnar Jónasson
'A fiendishly clever puzzle wrapped in a beautiful, dark atmospheric story.' Victoria Dowd

Illusionist turned sleuth Joseph Spector investigates a sinister conundrum at a 1930s theatre in this thrilling new mystery novel from Tom Mead, author of Death and the Conjuror, one of Publishers...

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ISBN 9781837932528
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Featured Reviews

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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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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