ILLUSIONS OF MAGIC: LOVE AND INTRIGUE IN 1933 CHICAGO
BY J.B. RIVARD
Publication Date: April 17, 2016
eBook; 233 Pages
Genre: Historical Fiction/Mystery
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The withering of vaudeville was bad enough in 1933. Because of the Great Depression, bookings for stage magician Nick Zetner disappeared. With his marriage cracking under the strain, Nick reluctantly accepts a devious banker’s deal: He earns a generous reward if he retrieves photos stolen during a break-in at the bank. Along the way, a love he thought he’d forever lost reappears. Despite his skill in the arts of magic, penetrating the realm of the thieves grows increasingly perilous, especially when it endangers his newfound romance.
Illusions of Magic seamlessly merges this tale with the true-life assassination attempt on President-elect Franklin D. Roosevelt resulting in Chicago’s mayor, Anton Cermak, being shot. His lingering death and a lack of legal means for his replacement causes great civic and social upheaval in the city.
In modern style, this novel propels the reader through emotional highs and subterranean lows with knife-edged dialogue, easy humor, page-turning action and authentic history.'
Nick Zetner is "The Amazing Mr. Z," a magician in 1933 Chicago; however with the depression and prohibition, not many venues are booking a magic act. So, when Nick's brother-in-law offers him a different kind a job, Nick takes his chances and agrees to find and return stolen merchandise to a wealthy client. A bank has been broken into and all of the contents of the safety deposit boxes stolen, Nick will be paid a generous sum if he can return a specific envelope with scandalous pictures. When Nick is hot on the trail of the photos, he finds that he may be in over his head in the world of thieves and gangsters especially when he discovers that his long-lost love, Iris may be mixed up in the whole mess.
A quick historical fiction read about 1930's mayhem that brings the time period alive. There was a great feel for the time period from jazz clubs, to bank robberies and strange guys in back offices cooking the books. I loved the inclusion of the illustrations, they did a great job of helping me to envision the dress, atmosphere and people in the story, I wish there were more! I was very interested in the historical backdrop where all of the events took place and was covertly influencing some of the characters- the attempted assassination of President-elect Roosevelt that ended up actually killing Chicago Mayor Anton Cermak. This event ended up causing a lot of strife for Nick's character. There wasn't a lot of characterization here, but it was more about the action. From the title, I had envisioned Nick using ingenious sleight of hand to retrieve what he needed from the robbers, while it was attempted, it was not quite what I had thought. Overall, an exciting adventure with robbers, cops, good vs. evil and a touch of romance in 1933 Chicago.
This book was received for free in return for an honest review.
Almost everyone is familiar with the illustrations in “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland”. However, the number of illustrated novels published–for adult readers–declined steadily from the beginning to the middle of the 20th century, although not for lack of popularity. “Illusions of Magic” dares a return to the edgy, swirling arts of the illustrated story, with pen and ink illustrations by the novel’s author, Joseph B. “J. B.” Rivard, supplementing this exciting story.
As a young child, Rivard began drawing by copying newspaper comics. In his teens, he drew illustrations for his high school’s award-winning yearbook. He attended the Chicago Academy of Fine Arts and his artworks have appeared in more than fifty juried exhibitions, earning many prizes and awards. He’s an artist-member of the Salmagundi Club of New York City.
Rivard’s writing draws on wide experience–he served in the U.S. Navy, graduated from the University of Florida, worked as a newspaper reporter, a magazine writer, and on the engineering staff of a U.S. National Laboratory where he wrote and co-authored many technical papers listed on Google Scholar. His broad background supports a wide array of significant publications, from short stories to song lyrics, from essays to novels. He calls Spokane, Washington home.
For more information, please visit the Illusions of Magic website.