A REAL Magician?
When a potentially interested reader hears that I’m writing a series of novels with a magician as the protagonist, a common question will arise: “Is he a real magician with supernatural powers, or just a guy who does tricks?” It’s a fair question, and readers will either be relieved or disappointed by the answer, depending on their preferences in fiction.
Rusty Diamond is a former Vegas stage performer who went into hiding after a botched illusion injured a spectator and invoked the wrath of some very dangerous people. This incident occurred just as Rusty was on the verge of a career breakthrough that would have propelled him to the status of a household name. Looking only to survive in the aftermath, he vanished—turning his back on Vegas and leaving behind everything he’d worked years to attain. He takes with him a vast storehouse of arcane knowledge and abilities, but he’ll never have an audience to perform for again.
That’s a longwinded way of answering the question. A more concise way would be to say, “No, he’s not a real magician.” Rusty Diamond cannot be accurately classified as a sorcerer, warlock, necromancer or shaman. He’s got a lot more in common with Houdini than Merlin. But even without supernatural powers at his disposal, Rusty wields a potent brand of magic that he relies on to handle myriad threats and close calls in this series of thrillers. Mentalism, escapism, knife-throwing, lock-picking, target-shooting and the deployment of explosive pyrotechnics … he will need to employ all these skills, and more, if he hopes to survive.
(At this point, certain readers hoping for an R-rated hard-boiled twist on Harry Potter are bound to turn away with crestfallen expressions.)
For those still reading, I can say that the idea of taking a washed-up Vegas magician and giving him new life as an amateur sleuth/vigilante appealed to me precisely because there are so many skills innate to performing “fake” magic that a real detective would find useful. While trying to keep these books grounded in reality as much as possible, I still aim to include as many mind-bending feats of sensory manipulation as plausibility will allow.
For an amateur, Rusty is surprisingly well equipped to manage the dangers closing in on him from all sides. But in the world of criminal detection, unlike on the stage, there’s no net below the tightrope and every curtain call could be his last. While none of the magic contained in the pages of Blind Shuffle is real in the most literal sense, it’s still some potent stuff—hopefully capable of keeping readers on the edge of their seats and providing an unexpected thrill or two along the way. In that sense, it’s as real as any magic can be.
Far from the neon lights of Bourbon Street, heinous crimes are being committed against young women, and a street magician seeks to pull off his greatest trick by staying alive long enough to see justice done. The stage is set for a New Orleans noir perfect for fans of James Lee Burke and George Pelecanos.
Rusty Diamond abandoned the Crescent City years ago to pursue fame in Las Vegas, leaving Marceline Lavalle, the daughter of his mentor, with a broken heart. Now Rusty has come back to make amends with his former teacher and his first love—but Prosper Lavalle won’t face him, and no one has seen Marceline for days.
Five months pregnant, Marceline’s vanished without a trace. Her estranged boyfriend, a casino boss with criminal ties and a hair-trigger temper, claims no knowledge of her whereabouts. With the police not yet ready to declare foul play, Rusty launches his own investigation.
The search for Marceline will take Rusty into the darkest corners of New Orleans, where enormous profit can be made from human misery, where desperate people hunt on the fringes, and where not all magic is sleight of hand. It will force him to confront the mistakes of his past, and offer him a shot at redemption. And it will leave him—if he’s not careful—at the bottom of a bayou.
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