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THE LINKING RINGS
An Eli Marks Mystery Book 4
BY JOHN GASPARD
Eli’s trip to London with his Uncle Harry quickly turns homicidal when the older magician finds himself accused of murder. A second slaying does little to take the spotlight off Harry, instead making it clear that someone is knocking off Harry’s elderly peers in bizarrely effective ways. But who? The tale takes an odd twist when the prime suspect appears to be a bitter performer with a grudge … who committed suicide over thirty years before.
While Eli struggles to prove his uncle’s innocence–and keep them both alive–he finds himself embroiled in a battle of his own: A favorite magic routine of his has been ripped off by another, hugely-popular magician.
What began as a whirlwind vacation to London with girlfriend Megan turns into a fatal and larcenous trip into the dark heart of magic within the city’s oldest magic society, The Magic Circle.
There were many attractions I had hoped to see on my first visit to London. The inner workings of the city’s jail system had not been one of them.
Especially on day one.
When planning the trip, I had assumed my biggest concern would be jet lag. I was wrong. While it proved to be a real issue, it came in at a distant second to raising bail.
At the moment, though, jet lag was all I had on my mind as I suppressed yet another yawn. Coming to The Magic Circle directly from the airport had been Harry’s idea, because his plan was to spend as little time in London as possible. Consequently, all I had seen of the city so far had been the interior of Heathrow airport, some blurry views of a rainy metropolis from within a careening cab, and now the second floor meeting room of the venerable magician’s club, The Magic Circle, located somewhere in the mysterious heart of London.
“Every time you yawn, you make me yawn,” Harry growled in a poor imitation of a stage whisper.
“I’ve noticed that,” I said, doing a considerably better job of keeping my voice down. “It’s kind of cool.”
“Easy for you to say,” he said. “You don’t have to go on stage in forty-five minutes.”
That was true. My role for the evening’s gala event was strictly that of an observer. Harry’s responsibilities were far more substantial, and he leaned forward to listen closely to the instructions that were being given to him and the evening’s other performer by the club’s Executive Director.
The room was beginning to fill with magicians, and Harry and his soon-to-be stage partner were at the top of that particular food chain. The reactions they were getting exemplified an odd phenomenon I’ve experienced through a life spent observing my magician uncle: while in the presence of normal people—that is to say, non-magicians—Harry was looked upon as your run-of-the-mill cranky and charming old man.
But let him walk into a room full of magicians, and it’s as if the Dali Lama has just arrived. He was, as he liked to put it, an occasional rock star.
Although at this moment, he was one of about a half-dozen Dali Lamas in the room. It was a virtual Who’s Who of magicians of a certain age. But right now my focus was on the two who were about to go on stage.
I turned and looked at the other magician, a man I had never met. Of course, I had certainly heard of Oskar Korhonen. He was a highly skilled magician from Finland who was world-renowned for his dexterity with a deck of cards. Such dexterity was all the more astonishing because Oskar was missing his left arm. A childhood accident had appeared to doom his dream of making a living as a magician, but his perseverance had clearly paid off. His one-handed shuffle was a thing of beauty, made all the more poignant in terms of card shuffling because it was really his only option.
He stood next to Harry on slightly wobbly legs, wearing his customary red checkered plaid tuxedo, a fashion statement that made him instantly recognizable within the magician world and certainly a curiosity outside of it.
“Mitä?“ he asked, leaning forward to hear better, as the multiple conversations in the room were starting to build to something just this side of a din.
“Why don’t we move this conversation into the theater?” the Executive Director suggested loudly, recognizing the room was only going to get noisier. He gestured toward the door, and the two older magicians made their way through the room, the growing crowd parting respectfully to let them pass. When they reached the doorway, Harry stopped, bowed slightly, and motioned to his fellow magician.
“After you, doctor,” Harry said with a wide smile.
“No, no, doctor, after you,” Oskar replied in his charming Finnish accent. Harry finally acquiesced and went first, followed by Oskar, who gave him a warm pat on the back.
I was puzzled by the exchange, as I knew for a fact Harry wasn’t a doctor in any sense of the term, and I had never heard of Oskar Korhonen being referred to in this manner. I made a mental note to ask Harry about it later. Since I was now alone in a crowded room of strangers, I turned to my traditional method for dealing with new people: I ignored them all.
Instead, I began to investigate the display cases lining a far wall. As it turned out, it was to be the first—and least deadly—of a number of investigations I’d be taking part in that week.
In real life, John’s not a magician, but he has directed eight low-budget features that cost very little and made even less – that’s no small trick. He’s also written four books on the subject of low-budget filmmaking. Ironically, they’ve made more than the films. His blog, “Fast, Cheap Movie Thoughts” has been named “One of the 50 Best Blogs for Moviemakers” and “One of The 100 Best Blogs For Film and Theater Students.” He’s also written for television, radio and the stage. John shares his home with his lovely wife, two greyhounds, a few cats and a handful of pet allergies.
Links to John’s website, blog, books, etc.
**SPECIAL GIVEAWAY: John is giving away an Audible copy of one of the first three Eli Marks books, THE AMBITIOUS CARD, THE BULLET CATCH, or THE MISER’S DREAM (winner’s choice) to one lucky reader who comments on his Karen’s Killer Book Bench blog.
Thanks, John, for sharing your book with us!
Don’t miss the chance to read this book!