Genre
  • Teen

Barry H. Wiley

Barry Wiley’s latest book, The Thought Reader Craze, from McFarland won the 2013 Christopher Literary Award. It is the story of the almost desperate search by scientists, academics and others for proof that telepathy was a fact of human nature and thus, potentially, the first scientific proof of life after death. It tells the story of the men, women and children who so successfully hoaxed the scientists and their methods.
The second novel in his Adventures in Second Sight Trilogy, Shadow of the Tiger, will be completed this summer. The  ...See more >


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"A magical concept and a miraculous heroine keep the pages turning in a YA adventure-fiction that feels like two different books fused together at mid-point—the second half far more violent and grim than the first."

Kirkus Reviews

BOOKS REVIEWED BY KIRKUS:

CHILDREN'S & TEEN
Pub Date:
Page count: 557pp

In 1890s America, a father-daughter mind-reading act who used their illusionism and acuity to solve crimes committed during Vaudeville tours face a deadly conspiracy in lawless San Francisco.

Imagine a magic show whose first act is charming legerdemain—and whose second act is ghastly mutilation and death. In this wildly uneven YA novel, Wiley, a stage-magic buff and historian, combines elements of real-life illusionists and Harry Houdini contemporaries into a fetching heroine. Adolescent Kyame Piddington and her widowed dad, John, cross an occasionally lawless Victorian-era America as the Impossible Piddingtons, a mind-reading act. They wow crowds with seemingly supernatural feats—actually products of Kyame’s photographic memory (inherited from her tuberculosis-victim mother), Sherlock-Holmesian logical deduction, acute peripheral vision that sees around blindfolds and a secret language of nonverbal cues worked out on the sly with her adoring father. Consequently the Piddingtons not only appear psychic but also sniff out deceit and mischief by bandits, gamblers, second-storey men, bankers and unscrupulous showbiz rivals, not to mention helping police solve crimes as a publicity sidelight to hype the act. After a captivating first half, Wiley has a 2-year narrative “intermission” (taking the opportunity to explain magic trade-secrets in a nonfiction sidebar), then returns in a darker mode. Kyame is now a young woman, still honing her mesmerism and shooting chops while attending art school. John Piddington, retired from touring, works in a Sacramento bank and uncovers a crooked financing/white-slavery/opium dealing scheme that results in a San Francisco tong war and gruesome torture-murder. By the bloody conclusion, Kyame is a girl who seems ready for her dragon tattoo—and two more installments are promised in a proposed Piddingtons trilogy. Wiley deftly renders the period atmosphere, attitudes, action and dialogue, and Kyame could develop a loyal following of readers of all ages and sexes—if only the material’s shifts in tone from PG to R were less schizoid. Still, one looks forward, admittedly with a little trepidation, to whatever Wiley plans to do with the heroine next.

A magical concept and a miraculous heroine keep the pages turning in a YA adventure-fiction that feels like two different books fused together at mid-point—the second half far more violent and grim than the first.

 

ADDITIONAL WORKS AVAILABLE:

THE INDESCRIBABLE PHENOMENON
Show Business Biography

Biography of Anna Eva Fay, the woman whom Harry Houdini called "the greatest female mystifier".

Published:
ISBN: 0-945296-50-9


THE THOUGHT READER CRAZE
Paranormal non-fiction

Story of the frantic search for proof of telepathy by scientists as a fact of human nature, 1870-1909 with the parallel stories of the men, women and children who so successfully hoaxed the scientiests. Also told is the story of the creation of the first one-man mindreading act in a Chicago saloon on a Monday morning in 1873 and the subsequent interaction between scientists, hoaxers and the performers.

Published:
ISBN: 978-0-7864-6470-8
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