The Ambitious Card engaged me from the beginning, and I think Eli Marks makes an interesting protagonist. Eli and his Uncle Harry are magicians who also operate a magic shop in Minneapolis.
Eli is often called upon as "debunker"--although he prefers the term " skeptic" when he exposes psychics claiming supernatural abilities. It isn't that Eli doesn't believe in the possibility of the supernatural, but he has yet to discover a genuine case and dislikes frauds who use illusions and gimmicks to deceive or dupe. As long as the individual does not assert that he or she can really read minds or speak to the dead, Eli is fine with it.
When called upon to debunk a psychic on television show, Eli exposes the methods the psychic uses to perform his act. When the psychic is found murdered, the Ambitious Card Eli used in his performance is dramatically displayed on the body, and Eli becomes a suspect. And then another psychic is murdered....
This series shows promise; both Eli and his Uncle Harry are engaging characters and there should be a number of possible plot lines using magicians. Although there are a lot of murders, the novel is more of a cozy mystery: centered on the small community surrounding the magic shop, an assortment of neighbors and friends, and lacking in gore.
Mystery. Aug. 2013. Print version: 288 pages.