ot every magician is a Houdini or David Copperfield, but with lots of practice and a bit of misdirection some can be great.
It all starts with “Pick a card.” From there this enjoyable tale of a not particularly successful female magician twists and turns. Get ready to read about magic tricks and card cheats – throwing cards, cutting cards, controlling cards, false deals, dealing from the bottom, and even rigged cuts.
Natalie Webb was a child protege winning the World of Magic competition for close up magic (sleight of hand with common objects) when only eighteen. Then something happened and while her skills remained great, her career was not.
Ten years later, she is living in a bare apartment, TV balanced on a milk crate and driving a beat up clunker of a car on bald tires. Her magic fails during a show injuring her volunteer assistant in a room filled with personal injury attorneys. Lawsuits loom over her, and her normal pace of magic shows at corporate parties, Bar Mitzvas and Bachelor Parties is not going to cut it. Those gigs were barely getting the rent and basics paid.
Looking for some extra bucks, she decides to take a magazine editor’s offer to get paid for a story on card magicians and card cheats. While doing her research, she falls in with some card cheats, and learns new tricks as she tries to honestly work her way out of debt. She learns about who she is and who she isn’t.
Scattered throughout are the memories and flashbacks that fill in the gaps. What derailed her magic career? How did it start? What seemingly small acts of petulance or rash moments of anger can careen your life from one extreme to another? Kardos weaves the backstory in elegantly adding depth to a character that I cared about.
By the end of the novel, Natalie has added her own misdirection and her game is better than ever.
Bluff may not be a must read, but for me it was definitely a fun one.
Jesse Markowitz is ranked in the Parthenon of Friends. Besides reading, he spent six years developing Solar Trader with me!