Review: The Bullet Catch by John Gaspard

In the world of magic, the Bullet Catch is an illusion in which a magician appears to catch a bullet fired directly at him. The magician catches the bullet in his mouth or, sometimes, his hand.

In John Gaspard’s novel, The Bullet Catch, Chicago magician Eli Marks has one possible murder to solve and yet another murder to prevent.

BULLET-CATCH-book-listWhen Eli grudgingly attends his 15-year reunion, he feels he finally appears on the radar of his once unapproachable high school crush, Trish– after all, her shady husband spends the evening tossing back too many drinks and hanging on other women. But he doesn’t count on Trish being a widow the next time he sees her . . . the very next morning! The death is ruled a mugging, but a mugging-that-might-not be-a-mugging, and Eli uses his connections with the DA’s office (his ex-wife) and the police department (her new husband) to dig around for the truth. Meanwhile, his old school friend, Jake, is set to star in a movie – a biopic of a magician who died performing the Bullet Catch. The production is sinking fast, and Jake is sure someone believes the death of the leading man will generate box-office gold.

With Eli Marks, Gaspard has created a witty, sympathetic, hero who is almost unnervingly likable. He is intelligent without being arrogant, loves his family and friends, displays common sense, and yet is fallible. Eli seems to be able to win anyone over. Even his ex-wife, with whom he claims to have a contentious relationship, shows him concern and warmth on occasion. I would like to be able to say Eli was so perfect, I did not believe the character, but I bought him completely. I am still trying to figure out how Gaspard managed to develop such a wholly lovable hero.

The Bullet Catch has a quick pace and dialogue that engages the reader from the first page. In fact, I was struck by how much this book relies on action and dialogue. The novel contains very little internal analysis or examination of emotions by its characters. When I had finished The Bullet Catch, my impression was that I had been reading a screenplay, rather than a novel. I was not surprised to read later that Gaspard has directed six low-budget movies and written books on the subject of low-budget film making.

The “screenplay” feel of the book is evident from the first chapter. The Bullet Catch is the second in Gaspard’s “Eli Marks Mysteries.” As with any series, the author is faced with the question of how to bring the reader up to speed on what transpired in previous novels, if at all. The Bullet Catch opens with Eli in the chair at his therapist, to whom he proceeds to relate the plot points of the prior book. The scene may as well have been prefaced by the announcement, “Previously, in the Eli Marks Mysteries . . .” The therapist’s office is a functional device, but a bit heavy-handed.

Nevertheless – screenplay, novel – a little of both – I enjoyed the author’s smart incorporation of details about the magic industry, as well as Eli’s relationship with his much-older uncle, Harry. John Gaspard has written a great character into an original storyline –If it seems to have been written to fit into an allotted time slot on cable TV, it doesn’t detract significantly from the reader’s enjoyment of the novel. I will definitely be seeing/reading more of Eli as Gaspard expands this promising mystery series.

Paperback: 282 pages

Publisher: Henery Press; First edition (November 4, 2014)

ISBN-10: 194097643X

ISBN-13: 978-1940976433ck

About This Site

Over the years, I’ve devoured dozens of mystery and thriller novels. I am a purist – I refuse to skip to the last page to see who the bad guy (or gal) is. I also have harbored the foolish thought that someday I would sit down and write a novel. Emphasis on someday. But now, someday has come. With my dear husband’s blessings (“if you don’t, someday you’ll look back and be sorry!”), I am concentrating full time on writing. And by “full time,” I mean every moment that I am not distracted in an other direction by an interesting headline, Facebook conversation, or basically any shiny object.

As I am going through the process of researching and writing this would-be-novel, I am finding all sorts of useful tools and tricks for writers. I am also reading as many mystery/thriller novels as I can, and noting writing styles, trends, and techniques I love (and some I dislike quite a good bit). I will share what I discover in this blog.

Thanks for coming along for the ride!

In my dreams, I’m on this list – The Edgar® Awards

In my dreams, I’m on this list – The Edgar® Awards

edgar allan poeEach year, the Mystery Writers of America (MWA) celebrate the anniversary of the birth of Edgar Allan Poe by honoring the best in mystery fiction, non-fiction and television, published or produced in the previous year.

The 2014 Edgar® Awards were presented to the winners at MWA’s 68th Gala Banquet, May 1,2014 at the Grand Hyatt Hotel, New York City. Continue reading

Review: Howdunit Forensics: A Guide for Writers by D.P. Lyle

When you are writing a murder mystery, eventually somebody is going to have to die, but unless you have a real-life back ground in forensics and an infallible memory, you are going to need some help making your murder feel authentic and believable. Enter the “Howdunit” series from Writer’s Digest Books. This set of (at last count 13) books is designed to help a writer plan, execute, and – sometimes – prosecute the crimes his characters commit. Continue reading

Review: Code: A Virals Novel by Kathy Reichs and Brendan Reichs

codecvrIn Code: A Virals Novel, the third installment of Kathy Reichs’ young adult series, Tory Brennan and the rest of the Virals are back for a geocaching hunt that, once again, places their lives in jeopardy. While the novel possesses the fast pace, wry humor, and accessible science that make her Temperance Brennan novels, (Deja Dead ,Flash and Bones) so enjoyable,  Reichs co-writes the “Virals” novels with her son, Brendan, former attorney-turned-new writer.  In an interview by Publisher’s Weekly, Kathy Reichs describes the collaborative process. Continue reading