Books by Tom Lalicki

TOM LALICKI is the author of three acclaimed nonfiction books for young readers, including Grierson’s Raid: A Daring Cavalry Strike Through the Heart of the Confederacy. He lives in Westchester County, New York. This is his first novel.

SHOTS AT SEA by Tom Lalicki
Released: Sept. 25, 2007

Lalicki's second historical mystery finds escapologist Harry Houdini and his protégé Nate Makeworthy Fuller IV on board the Lusitania, there to uncover the identity of Theodore Roosevelt's would-be assassin. While they are taking a walk one evening on board ship, a shot is fired; though it's aimed at Roosevelt, Nate and Houdini suffer minor injuries. Nate has been practicing his skills of observation, so he's sure he can identify the shooter. Danger lurks around every corner, but Houdini and Nate are well-prepared. Familiar characters, such as stuffy Aunt Alice and Nate's devoted mother, make an appearance, as does Houdini's wife Bess. To catch the villain, Houdini puts on a spectacular performance. Lalicki is well-versed in his subjects, but the historical detail sometimes overwhelms the light-heartedness of the story. Readers interested in fiction with historical characters will drink this one up, and it's also for fans of Dan Gutman's Qwerty Stevens, Back in Time mysteries. (Historical fiction. 8-12)Read full book review >
Released: Oct. 12, 2006

Since his father's death, 13-year-old Nathaniel Greene Makeworthy Fuller IV and his mother have been living in New York City with Nate's wealthy, paternal great-aunt Alice. For some time, Nate has been secretly listening to the "spooky, late-night gatherings" taking place at their apartment involving great-Aunt Alice's new friend, Mr. Trane. Nate is hoping these meetings will end once they all leave for their summer holiday. Unfortunately, this summer, stern Aunt Alice has Nate working as a "dogsbody" (a worthless drudge) at Bennett & Son, Gentleman's Hatters, where he has the good fortune to meet Harry Houdini. The Houdinis are a warm and welcoming couple who eagerly befriend Nate and his mother. When the Houdinis learn that Mr. Trane is using these late-night séances to try and steal Aunt Alice's wealth, Nate and Houdini work together to unmask the charlatan. The suspense builds to a thoroughly enjoyable climax in this fast-paced historical-fiction mystery. Readers will delight in the many references to Houdini's magic, and to New York in 1911. Pair this one with Gary Blackwood's Second Sight (2005) and look for sequels. (Fiction. 9-14)Read full book review >
Released: April 8, 2004

During the Civil War, Vicksburg, Mississippi, was better defended than any other Southern city, but it had to be captured to achieve Lincoln's goal of splitting the Confederacy by controlling the Mississippi River. Colonel Benjamin H. Grierson was chosen to lead a cavalry raid through central Mississippi with 1,700 soldiers, destroying railroad tracks, burning bridges, ripping out telegraph lines, and diverting attention from Vicksburg before the impending siege. Told as a day-by-day chronicle of Grierson's 16-day raid, Lalicki's narrative is enlivened by soldiers' first-person accounts, period photographs, excellent maps, and prints from Harper's Weekly. The volume includes a bibliography of sources the author used but no source notes and no guide to the many Civil War resources for young readers. The author effectively places the raid into the larger context of the war, and young readers will learn much about the Civil War in general in this excellent account of one campaign. (chains of command, organization of cavalry, glossary, index) (Nonfiction. 10+)Read full book review >
SPELLBINDER by Tom Lalicki
Released: July 15, 2000

Houdini has plenty of biographers, but Lalicki, who as Tom L. Matthews wrote Always Inventing: A Photobiography of Alexander Graham Bell (1999), will leave even veteran students of the great showman, magician, escape artist, and self-promoter astonished anew: "He was stripped naked and examined by a police surgeon who certified that he was hiding nothing. His mouth was taped shut, his wrists and ankles were shackled in ten sets of police handcuffs. For good measure, the ankle cuffs were attached to the handcuffs with an eleventh pair before he was locked into an interrogation room. Five minutes later, Houdini walked out . . ." Were there any limits to his ingenuity? Among many other feats, he also escaped from an oversized paper envelope without tearing it, pulled dozens of threaded needles from his mouth in the oft-performed "East Indian Needles," developed a show for blind audiences and put on performances despite a broken ankle and a ruptured appendix. Lalicki doesn't explain Houdini's tricks, but describes them in riveting detail, emphasizing, as Houdini always did, that the chains, the locks, and the personal danger were never faked. Stocking the tale with a generous array of family portraits, dramatic publicity photos, and attention-grabbing playbills, the author paints a vivid picture of an intense, generous man who did not need to have his exploits exaggerated to make him a folk hero—or, as once billed, "The Most Popular Man in the Entire World." (index, bibliography, author's note) (Biography. 9-12) Read full book review >