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The Houdini girl
Martyn Bedford
Adult Fiction BEDFORD

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From Publishers' Weekly:

Few authors have plumbed the metaphor that love is magic as thoroughly as British author Bedford does in his intricately structured, cleverly compelling second novel. Indeed, truth and lies, illusion and reality, are the substance of this work. The narrator is an Oxford-based magician who calls himself Peter Prestige the Prodigious Prestidigitator (he was christened Fletcher Clark, aka Fletcher Brandon and better known as Red). In a bar one night, Red falls for Killarney-born tough girl Rosa Kelly; she moves in with him the next day. Less than a year later, she dies in a freak accident. In chapters that alternate between past and present, two narratives unfold side by side: the love story of Red and Rosa, and the events behind Rosa's gruesome and mysterious death under the wheels of a train. In perfect counterpoint against the increasingly tense plot line, Red meditates on the tricks of his craft. While the illusions are deliberately not explained, they are described, along with the philosophy and business of being a magician. It turns out that Rosa is as masterful at deception as Red is at illusion, and Red gradually realizes that what he had assumed was the daily routine of a loving relationship was, on her side, a brilliantly sustained facade. At the same time, he comes to understand her vulnerability and the way he contributed to her final act. Bedford (Acts of Revision) is a master of control and technique, revealing the secrets in Rosa's past in the step-by-step fashion of a thriller, creating a web of intrigue, danger and jolting surprises, especially after Red travels to Amsterdam to fathom the missing pieces of Rosa's double life. The central irony‘how a man trained in illusion as entertainment learns to his lasting regret that others deal in deceit from more complex motives‘adds emotional resonance to a skillful work that transcends mere sleight of hand to achieve poignant meaning. (Feb.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

From Library Journal:

A professional magician ponders the past of a girl, now dead, he has seduced with a magic trick. Following Bedford's award-winning debut, Acts of Revision. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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