The plot itself is simple. Magic historian, Professor Giles Dawson, is hired by circus owner, Ramon Mordomo, to investigate suspicious ‘accidents’ in his circus which he thinks are being perpetrated by someone wanting to close his circus down.
Having been issued with a list of likely suspects by Mordomo, Giles goes along to the circus and meets the performers, watches their acts and it is not long before the accidents start to happen until, in front of hundreds of spectators, someone dies.
The detection is cerebral as Giles uses his knowledge of magic and illusion to seek a solution.
There is love interest too. Giles is keen on Laura who appeared in Cargill’s debut crime novel, The Statue of Three Lies’. In fact, there are so many references to this book I felt I was reading part of a serial.
There are frequent references, too, to horse racing, a passion Giles shares with his old RAF chum, Freddie Oldsworth.
If all the ingredients are there for an exciting thriller, think again. Although set in the 1960’s, the book is written in the languid style of the 1920’s, far removed from the short, snappy sentences of modern novels aimed at the text-speak generation. It is also full of irrelevant information. However knowledgeable and interesting in themselves, all the extra facts are a distraction from the main theme.
References to Bulldog Drummond and P.G. Wodehouse give the game away. David Cargill is an 85 year old retired teacher. If he had written this book in 1947 it would have been warmly received and much admired because it is extremely well written of its type.
Professor Dawson drives a Triumph Spitfire. No match for a 2012 Mazda MX5. Says it all.