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As if by Magic (Jack Haldean Murder Mysteries) Hardcover – August 1, 2009

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Gordon-Smith's intricate third 1920s mystery to feature writer-sleuth Jack Haldean (after 2008's Mad About the Boy) opens with an intriguing setup: George Lassiter, a down-on-his-luck South African, breaks into what he thinks is an unoccupied London house, only to overhear what he's sure is a woman's murder. When the police collar him for burglary, he relates what happened, but the authorities find no evidence of foul play at the house. Fortunately, Haldean, who flew with Lassiter during WWI, learns of his situation and goes to his rescue. When Lassiter tells Haldean he's been cheated out of a bequest by an imposter, Haldean discovers that the people whose house Lassiter burglarized were his relatives, who may be tied not only to the scam that deprived Lassiter of the bequest but to a series of murders reminiscent of the Ripper killings. While the answers to the various puzzles may not satisfy every reader, Gordon-Smith does a solid job presenting fair-play clues. (Aug.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


Robin Agnew

Aunt Agatha's Bookstore

This is a terrific book.

When Gordon-Smith's storytelling wizardry takes hold,  you'll be seriously hooked.

Any fan of either the traditional British mystery or of the historical mystery should be in heaven.

Rachel A Hyde

As If By Magic

London is the venue for old family secrets, dastardly doings and shenanigans in the world of aviation, the best so far. There is an enthusiasm for this lost world, which is as enjoyable as the actual murder mystery. Here is a book that sets a high standard. Very highly recommended. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Product Details

  • Series: Jack Haldean Murder Mysteries
  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Soho Constable; First Edition edition (August 1, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1569475881
  • ISBN-13: 978-1569475881
  • Product Dimensions: 5.7 x 1.2 x 8.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,647,694 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Suzette A. Hill on July 30, 2009
Format: Hardcover
As If By Magic seems an entirely fitting title for this third novel in the Jack Haldean series. Dolores Gordon-Smith's capacity for tortuous plotting is intrinsically absorbing, but even more remarkable is the way that all the threads are drawn together at the end - as if by magic! For fans of Agatha Christie and other redoubtable 'plotters' this novel holds considerable appeal. However, it is not simply the ingenuity of the plot itself which holds our attention, but also the way that the 1920s social scene is so smoothly incorporated: the fusion of sedate tea parties and dope-ridden nightclubs comes over well; and the excitement of fast cars - and in particular fast aeroplanes - beautifully recaptured. Gordon-Smith has an unerring capacity to evoke the physical tangibilities of experience: her ability to recreate the the sense of cold, isolation and bleakness of London on a drear Friday night is brilliant - and unnerving! As indeed is her acute perception of the anxieties and disillusions of personal relationships. I can recommend this as an entertaining but also a reflective read.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Harriet Klausner #1 HALL OF FAME on August 21, 2009
Format: Hardcover
In the 1920s in London, South African expatriate George Lassiter breaks into a house he believes is empty. However, instead he hears voices in what sounds like the murder of a woman. Not sure what to do, he goes to leave quietly only the police arrest him accusing him of attempted burglary.

He tells the cops what he believes happened inside the house, but they find no evidence of a homicide. Private investigator Jack Haldean learns of his WWI flying mate's problems and goes to get him out of jail. George explains to Jack what he heard, why he was in the house and who owns it. Jack believes George that a murder probably occurred and that he was cheated by an impostor out of his inheritance. Jack investigates and learns the owners of the house are relatives of George who probably abetted the con artist who stole his bequest. Jack begins to piece together something more horrifying as an apparent serial killer is the loose while London remains ignorant.

The third Jack Haldean 1920s whodunit (see A FATE WORST THAN DEATH and MAD ABOUT THE BOY) is a terrific historical mystery that brings to life London through the eyes of an emigre author just after WWI. The story line is fast-paced from the moment George breaks into a house he believes he owns. Fans will relish Jack's inquiry as he finds much more than he expected.

Harriet Klausner
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Austenparker VINE VOICE on December 21, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The third entry in the Jack Haldean series takes off with a mystery wrapped in an enigma. Who is George Lassiter? Why is he sloping about London in evening clothes, yet destitute? Why did he see a dead blonde where no dead blondes could be found? Dolores Gordon-Smith comes into her own in this volume. The tension is tight, the pacing is pitch-perfect. I was enthralled by the intriguing, intricate plot. There is a distinct change of pace from the two previous entries, much in keeping with the change of scenery from the pastoral surroundings of Hesperus to the swiftly-moving world of 1922 London with its glitzy restaurants and seedy night clubs. While the first two books read more like cosy mysteries, this entry had teeth. It is with admiration that we witness Gordon-Smith's skillful translocation of Jack from country house guest sleuth to gritty, pavement pounding gum-shoe without losing any of his initial charm or changing in any fantastical way. He remains as he has always been - observant, canny, and yet still touchingly noble. The only defect to be found is that Jack's history isn't fleshed out more - his character, his motivations are still a little bit too stock-in-trade to be anything more than a pleasant persona with which to while away a few hours. It is to be hoped that Gordon-Smith will delve deeper into Jack's character and background in future volumes. While only a slight defect in an overall admirable entry into the annals of mystery fiction, it's actually a tribute to the author's skill that we, the readers, wish to know more about Jack.

Although I was able to formulate an inkling as to who the ultimate culprit or culprits (no spoilers here!
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