Sunday, February 8, 2015

The Magician's Daughter-Judith Janeway

The Magician's Daughter
Judith Janeway
Poisoned Pen Press, Feb 3 2015, $14.95
ISBN: 9781464203404

Early in the morning, the Great Valentina performs an act seeking to find a missing rabbit to pull out of a hat.  However, someone steals the donations because her “hat man” Jeff failed to protect the loot and the twenty-something magician overhears a teenage “Anime” girl mention Beth Hull to her father.  Shocked Valentine Hill knows the name Beth Hull intimately though has not seen her Mommy Dearest Elizabeth Hill, who uses that alias in her cons, in almost a decade.  Valentine chats with Ashley but ignores the dad whom she catalogues as a “Creep” rather than an “Uncle”.  Ashley tells her that her father’s public girlfriend Beth lives in San Francisco.  Jeff arrives to say he is playing a gig in Berkley, but Valentine rejects him.  Afterward she arrives home to find Jeff ransacked her room and took her money.

In Pacific Heights, Valentine goes to see her mom only to be stopped by all muscle no brain Dwayne.  When she awakens from a beating lying near a corpse, FBI Agent Eugenia Philips takes her to her next door apartment where they chat re Beth. Trusting no one, she escapes from Phil only to end up in a SFPD car with Homicide Inspector Lopez interrogating her.

The above paragraphs represent parts of the first two chapters in perhaps the most action-packed crime thriller in years.  Over the top of Lafayette Park, but filled with numerous taut twists and red herrings, and starring a great protagonist (mindful of the leads in Now You See Me), the misnamed Magician's Daughter is a spectacular first Valentine Hill Mystery.

Harriet Klausner

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