Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Axelrod, Amy, & David Axelrod. The Bullet Catch: Murder by Misadventure.

Axelrod, Amy, & David Axelrod.  The Bullet Catch: Murder by Misadventure.  Holiday House  2015  245p  $17.95  ISBN 978-0-8234-2858-8   ms/hs  Historical fiction  VG-BON

Leo and three orphans leave their orphanage and strike out on their own.  Leo is a master pickpocket and secures money for the group, Murph is a master liar, and the other two boys provide the brains and brawn to stay just a step ahead of the police.  When Leo is betrayed by his friends, he goes in search of a job that fits his area of interest, which is magic and illusions.  He becomes an apprentice to the Great Barzini, who is about to strike it big.  Could this master magician be even more duplicitous than Leo bargained for?  This novel includes a lot of historical detail about New York City, the magicians of the era, the magic tricks of the era, and the ragtag existence of many young people with little education, compared to that of the wealthy adults around them.  This book is a fascinating read about illusions and the people who perform them, and it provides a rich understanding of New York City life in the early 1900s.  The mother/son writing team would do well to collaborate on other books, as this one is sure to spark a lot of interest.  The characters are very believable and their motives ring true. Some of the issues explored are that of truth versus deceit, the nature of friendship, and how people get by in a world in which they feel alone. 

Summary: Leo is betrayed by one of his fellow orphans in New York City in 1917. He manages to escape the police and find legitimate employment in the service of a magician who is about to strike it big.  Great historical details and a compelling story make this a book of note for grades 6-12.      

Magic-Fiction, New York City-History-Fiction                --Lois McNicol

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