The Murder Wheel: A Locked-Room Mystery (Hardcover)
Sleuthing stage magician Joseph Spector (Death and the Conjuror) returns to investigate a baffling series of impossible crimes.
“Even readers who live to match wits with canny authors and detectives are likely to be outwitted by this one.”—Kirkus
“Can you solve the Ferris wheel murder case?”
When a sensational killing rocks 1938 London, local newspaper ads offer a hefty sum to the person who can say whodunnit. A man has been shot dead at the top of a Ferris wheel, and his wife — the only other person in their carriage — insists on her innocence. But who else could have fired the deadly bullet and escaped unseen? The sheer implausibility of the claim is enough to whip the press into a frenzy and, for young and idealistic Edmund Ibbs, the lawyer representing the accused, that frenzy may be his only hope at discovering the truth of the mysterious murder.
As he digs into the case, Ibbs unwittingly enters a shadowy web of conspiracy and murder, soon finding himself implicated in not one but two other seemingly impossible crimes. First, a corpse appears out of thin air during a performance by a famed illusionist, then a second victim is mortally wounded in a locked dressing room backstage.
Edmund is in exactly the wrong place at the wrong time, attracting the suspicion of Scotland Yard inspector George Flint. His only hope at freedom comes in the form of retired stage magician Joseph Spector, a man steeped in the art of misdirection, who happens to be in the audience for the deadly show. Spector’s mastery of illusion is capable of piercing the veil of deceit, but will his deductive powers be strong enough to explain this utterly confounding series of crimes?
Featuring a puzzling plot with a brilliant and fairly clued solution, The Murder Wheel is a delightful homage to the Golden Age mystery sure to please fans of classic crime fiction; Tom Mead’s atmospheric writing and memorable, complex characters prove him to be one of the best new talents in the historical mystery of today.
— Publishers Weekly STARRED REVIEW
A delicious locked room feast of impossibilities set in the golden age of theatre and murder mysteries. I love the Mephistophelean Joseph Spector!
— Ovidia Yu, author of the History Tree Mysteries
A triple-barreled puzzle…. Even readers who live to match wits with canny authors and detectives are likely to be outwitted by this one.
In his captivating second novel Tom Mead establishes himself as the current master of the locked-room mystery, and The Murder Wheel doesn't give us merely one example of this honored tradition to solve, but three of them … three interlocking 'impossible' murders, each with plenty of twists and skillful misdirection. The characters are charming, the plot moves briskly along, and in the end, the brilliant 'Old Conjuror,' Joseph Spector, puts it all together and comes up with the goods. A winner!
— Aaron Elkins, author of the Gideon Oliver series
A clever writer with a mastery of setting, plotting, and the world of the illusionist, Tom Mead takes the reader on a delightful ride. Ibbs is a deliberate man—the perfect narrator for a story of murder committed very deliberately. I was pulled deep into the puzzle and held there to the very end. Kudos, Mr. Mead. Mystery readers will love this dazzling, page-turning tale.
— Carolyn Haines, USA Today bestselling author of the Sarah Booth Delaney mystery series
What an absolute treasure! Tom Mead writes with the sophisticated and knowing voice of another era, with a skilled sleight of hand, and with deep knowledge of psychology, magic, and human nature. THE MURDER WHEEL is an engaging, perplexing, and irresistible riff on locked room mysteries—you've never seen a series of crimes as delightfully complex, or as brilliantly crafted. You will not be able to put this down, and what's more, you will never be able to solve all the puzzles within puzzles. But you will stand and applaud, as I did, at the marvelously fair solutions. I promise you'll be given all the clues, dear murder mystery readers, but, trust me: give up trying to identify whodunnit, and simply enjoy the journey to an elegant and satisfying conclusion, where the impossible becomes—presto!—possible.
— Hank Phillippi Ryan, USA Today bestselling author
Tom Mead has quickly become one of my must-read authors, writing some of the most ingenious and entertaining locked-room mysteries being published today.
— Anthony Award- and Agatha Award-winning author Gigi Pandian
The Murder Wheel was a delight from enigmatic start to clever finish. Tom Mead's expert, house-of-mirrors plot joyfully confounds the reader page after page. It is a real treat of perplexities and conundrums for mystery lovers everywhere.
— Earlene Fowler, Agatha Award-winning author of the Benni Harper mysteries
[A] triply clever salute to the golden-age whodunit.
— Shelf Awareness
The Murder Wheel harks back to an earlier type of mystery ... Making things even more fun here is the combination of two vintage templates: the locked-room puzzle and the theater mystery. Add a charismatic protagonist, and you have a recipe for pure nostalgic pleasure.
— Wall Street Journal