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

Chewy soft pretzels are easy to make at home. (Photo by Tressa Dale/Penisula Clarion)
Chewy soft pretzels are easy to make at home. (Photo by Tressa Dale/Peninsula Clarion)
On the strawberry patch: Sisterhood and soft pretzels

Our favorite snack there, the one I know will always make her smile, was a soft pretzel with cheese sauce.

The welcome sign for the City of Kenai, as seen in this city Facebook page photo.
History with a sense of humor, Part 1

The first part of a two-part collection of humorous tales gleaned from old newspapers on the central Kenai Peninsula.

Ward off Halloween’s mystical monsters with these garlic-infused cheesy shells and pepper sauce. (Photo by Tressa Dale/Peninsula Clarion)
On the strawberry patch: Tasty Halloween

Keep spooky creatures at bay with garlic-infused shells and pepper sauce.

Will Morrow (courtesy)
Let there be lights!

When I stopped in at one of our local stores, I didn’t cringe when I saw all the holiday decorations on display.

Cabbage, potatoes, salmon and an assortment of pantry staples make for a culinary challenge. (Photo by Tressa Dale/Peninsula Clarion)
On the strawberry patch: Take a culinary pop quiz

Get creative with what’s in your pantry

This undated John E. Thwaites photo, perhaps taken near Seward, shows the S.S. Dora grounded. (Alaska State Library photo collection)
Resilience of the Dora, part 3

Her long career had come to an end at last.

Nick Varney
Unhinged Alaska: Sometimes I wonder, who needs who

Dog whispers we are not. Suckers for unconditional love, you bet.

Meredith Harber (courtesy)
Minister’s Message: Don’t let termination dust bring you down

If I’m honest, this time of year is the hardest for me mentally and emotionally.

Pieces hang on display at the Kenai Art Center for the open call show on Wednesday, Oct. 6, 2021 in Kenai, Alaska. (Camille Botello/Peninsula Clarion)
‘They felt like they could share with us now’

Art center open call offers space for new artists.

The Cosmic Hamlet Entertainment film crew prepares for a new scene to roll on the set of “Bolt from the Blue” at the Kilcher Homestead on Sept. 28. (Photo by Sarah Knapp/Homer News)
‘Bolt from the Blue’ film features Homer

“The Office” star Kate Flannery cast in feature film produced in Homer.

These old-fashioned doughnuts don’t skimp on the fat or sugar. (Photo by Tressa Dale/Peninsula Clarion)
On the strawberry patch: Memories of old-fashioned doughnuts

My recipe is for old-fashioned doughnuts, and since I make these maybe twice a year, I don’t skimp on the sugar and fat.

Virginia Walters (Courtesy photo)
Life in the Pedestrian Lane: October is here again

The days are shorter. We are losing nearly six minutes a day. It’s getting colder.