The Bookworm Sez: 'The Magician's Lie' and entertaining read

The Bookworm Sez: ‘The Magician’s Lie’ and entertaining read

Abracadabra. Now you see it.

Now you don’t because a good magician knows to hide his props behind his fingers, beneath her clothes, in his pockets. And yet we flock to see that sleight of hand, the illusions, the chance to be awe-struck, entertained, and fooled.

Now you see it. Now you don’t. And in the new novel “The Magician’s Lie” by Greer Macallister (c.2015, Sourcebooks, $23.99, 320 pages), the only thing she’s hiding is the truth.

Officer Virgil Holt figured his life was over.

Just that week, he’d learned that the bullet he carried in his body could kill him at any time. Once the sheriff found out, he’d strip Virgil of his badge; he’d lose his wife, his home, everything he’d worked for. So when a dead man was found in a theater basement, gruesomely chopped in half, Virgil almost wished he could trade places.

But then something happened that could save him: Virgil captured The Amazing Arden, illusionist, wife of the dead man. Virgil had seen her stage show. He knew she cut men in two and he had her now, triple-handcuffed to a jailhouse chair.

He wanted a confession but instead, Arden began telling Virgil a story …

Once, long ago when she was called Ada, her mother taught her to dance and she had big plans. Then a cousin ruined everything by throwing Ada off a beam onto a barn floor. Just before fleeing for her life, she learned of her own healing powers.

As a runaway, Ada took a job as a kitchen maid where she met a boy and fell in love; he took her to New York, then broke her heart. Shortly afterward, she found work with a magic show, the owner of which taught Ada everything about illusion, and about pleasing a crowd. Ada grew to crave applause.

When the man she loved came back into her life, Ada became Arden, famous for her daring stage shows. She was in love, and happy until everything changed, all because of a fire and a chance meeting that nearly killed her.

She was a victim. She didn’t kill her husband. She didn’t know who did.

At least that’s what she said …

So you might be a little gullible. You know when someone’s fibbing — more or less. But the one thing you’ll know for sure when you read this book is that you’ve got a winner in your hands.

Set around the turn of the last century, “The Magician’s Lie” proves, like any good stage show, that our brains can easily deceive us: never mind the characters, we readers don’t truly know if Arden is spinning a fable or giving an alibi. I’m still reeling from the possibilities myself, because author Greer Macallister’s conjured up the kind of novel that pulls readers in, shakes us up, and leaves us feeling sawed in two.

That, and the lingering sense of having just been happily duped, makes this one very satisfying novel and you know you want it. Go now, find “The Magician’s Lie,” and watch your time disappear.

The Bookworm is Terri Schlichenmeyer. Email her at

More in Life

Nick Varney
Unhinged Alaska: Would I do it again?

I ran across some 20-some year-old journal notes rambling on about a 268-foot dive I took

A copy of Prince Harry’s “Spare” sits on a desk in the Peninsula Clarion office on Tuesday, Jan. 24, 2023, in Kenai, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Off the Shelf: Prince Harry gets candid about ‘gilded cage’ in new memoir

“Spare” undoubtedly succeeds in humanizing Harry

The cast of “Tarzan” rides the Triumvirate Theatre float during the Independence Day parade in downtown Kenai, Alaska on Monday, July 4, 2022. (Camille Botello/Peninsula Clarion)
Triumvirate swings into the year with ‘Tarzan’, Dr. Seuss and fishy parody

The next local showing of the Triumvirate Theatre is fast approaching with a Feb. 10 premiere of “Seussical”

This vegan kimchi mandu uses crumbled extra-firm tofu as the protein. (Photo by Tressa Dale / Peninsula Clarion)
Meditating on the new year with kimchi mandu

Artfully folding dumplings evokes the peace and thoughtful calm of the Year of the Rabbit

A promotional poster for the first event in the Winter Film Series. (Photo courtesy Kenai Peninsula Film Group)
Movie buffs to debut local film series

This first entry is centered on short films

Mashed potatoes are served with chicken breast, green beans and pan sauce. (Photo by Tressa Dale/Peninsula Clarion)
Mashed potatoes for a chef

They are deceptively hard to get right

Photo 210.029.162, from the Clark Collection, courtesy of Hope and Sunrise Historical and Mining Museum 
Emma Clark feeds the Clark “pet” moose named Spook in 1981. At the urging of state wildlife officials, Carl Clark had agreed to care for this calf at their home in Hope.
Emma Clark: Becoming a Hope pioneer

For 50 years, Emma and Carl had been central to the story of Hope

A copy of “Before the Coffee Gets Cold” stands on a desk in the Peninsula Clarion office on Wednesday, Jan. 11, 2023, in Kenai, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Off the Shelf: Coffee shop time travelers leave reader cold

“Before the Coffee Gets Cold” is the debut novel of author and playwright Toshikazu Kawaguchi

Josiah Burton and Jaylee Webster rehearse "Something Rotten" on Wednesday, Nov. 9, 2022, at Soldotna High School in Soldotna, Alaska. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)
School productions bring SpongeBob SquarePants, Sherlock Holmes to the stage

Nikiski and Soldotna drama programs prepare for April productions

Ultra-fast, protein-packed miso soup is a mild and comforting broth for sick days. (Photo by Tressa Dale/Peninsula Clarion)
Soothing soup for January ills

It’s probably a novelty to have experienced my child’s infancy without a single sniffle