Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Hocus Pocus Hero: Shots at Sea: A Nate & Houdini Mystery by Tom Lalicki

Following up on his first book, Danger in the Dark: A Houdini & Nate Mystery in the history mystery series Houdini & Nate Mysteries, Tom Lilicki brings together his crime-busting pair, twelve-year-old New Yorker Nate, and master of illusion Harry Houdini, this time on a historic crossing of the Atlantic on the luxe liner Lusitania.

Crossing to England with his mother and wealthy Aunt Alice, Nate is surprised to discover among the passengers former President Teddy Roosevelt and his old mentor and partner in crime solving, Harry Houdini. Nate has been practicing his observation skills as the other passengers are boarding, hoping for some excitement during the five day trip, and he soon gets his wish when during a morning constitutional around the deck, an apparent anarchist terrorist fires his pistol at close range at the ex-president. As a heroic guard shields Roosevelt with his body, Houdini and Nate move to try to stop the fleeing gunman. Houdini is slightly wounded and Nate suffers a quick blow to the head as the gunner escapes. Although the man's bearded face is shielded by a low-brimmed hat, Nate is certain that his physique and manner match one of the passengers he had observed on the gangplank the day before.

Working together, Nate, President Roosevelt, and Harry Houdini conceive a brilliant but dangerous plan to flush out the terrorist by scheduling a gala costume party aboard ship on the final night of the voyage. Houdini promises to entertain the President and guests with his most amazing illusion, as armed stewards and a Scotland Yard detective in disguise are scattered among the crowd, hoping to capture the anarchist when he makes his move. Although ordered for his own safety to remain in his stateroom with his friend, bellboy Phineas, for a guard, Nate convinces Phin to procure a bellboy uniform as a disguise in which he can attend as a virtually invisible servant at the fete.

Moving surreptitiously among the lavishly costumed celebrants, Nate spots the anarchist smeared with coal dust and disguised as an engine room stoker with his shovel. Nate knows he must warn the armed Scotland Yard detective before the gunman can strike, but how can he do it without alarming the would-be assassin? Watching Houdini skillfully beginning to work his illusion, Nate suddenly knows what he must do!

The deluxe steamship Lusitania was the fastest passenger liner in 1909, boasting the most avant garde technology of its time, and this intriguing historical setting gives the appealing character of Nate and his clever partner Harry Houdini a fascinating stage upon which to carry out their political sleuthing.

Shots at Sea: A Houdini & Nate Mystery (Houdini and Nate Mysteries) is mystery which weaves the historical setting and real-life characters of Teddy Roosevelt and Harry Houdini into a suspenseful story with an adventurous young detective who will have strong appeal for middle readers.

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  • This may seem a little odd but... could you consider adding labels for something like 'boy protagonist' and 'girl protagonist'?

    My daughter is now 19 and I had a difficult time finding strong girl protagonists when she was young. But things have swung a bit the other way now--for my 11 year old son, a good reader, I'm having trouble finding good males. I'm not trying to be sexist but many modern girl books are just centered around social issues that leave him cold.

    Just a thought.

    By Anonymous Susan Taylor, at 11:40 AM  

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