The Harry Houdini Mysteries
Daniel Stashower
Titan Books 2012

Daniel Stashower knows how to piece together a very nice mystery novel, capturing his audience with the ease and propriety of Victorian style.   Interesting from the get go, The Floating Lady Murder, previously released in 2000, is one of The Harry Houdini Mysteries series.

It begins with an elderly Theodore “Dash” Hardeen, younger brother of the Great, and unfortunately late, Harry Houdini, manoeuvering out of bed on the anniversary of his brother’s death, readying himself to meet the inevitable gathering of reporters who wish a few words about the formidable escape artist. Harry Houdini Mysteries: The Floating Lady Murder

This time, Dash elects to break his silence and reveal the details of The Floating Lady Illusion.

It is 1898. The brothers are in their early 20s in 1898, the art of magic is popular entertainment, and  Houdini is trying to establish himself as an recognized and extraordinary escape artist.  Dash, talented in his own right, is searching for work for the pair.  They ended up, much to the chagrin of Harry and his grandiose ego, obtaining work within the troupe of performers of Harry Keller’s traveling magic show; one of the best of it’s day.  Peculiar to unfortunate events begin occurring behind the scenes, and as they become more menacing, there is speculation that the accidents may not be mere coincidence.  Magician rivalry the motive.

Meanwhile, Keller is attempting to perfect an illusion in which a young woman seems to float unconscious ever upward from the stage, only to vanish before an astounded audience.  The night of the maiden live performance turns tragic when the trick goes horribly wrong, and the beautiful Francesca Moore plummets to her death.  Keller and his show are ruined forever.

Curiously, though, Miss Moor appears to have drowned.

Harry and Dash step in to investigate and eventually solve this 19th century murder mystery.

The Floating Lady Murder by Daniel Stashower is nicely staged.  The reader is entertained and constantly intrigued by the adventure.  Stashower makes his characters come alive, injects lightness and humour, and captures the feel of the time.  He cleverly weaves in Shakespeare and another enjoyable literary surprise.

Due to some unexpected reveals, the enthusiastic reader cannot possibly sleuth along with Harry and Dash, but that does not necessarily make the book any less enjoyable.

The Floating Lady Murder by Daniel Stashower is an interesting read, and a solid Houdini whodunit.