A frisky, fumbling first mystery in which a pro magician--Houdini's nephew--must spring his innocent daughter from a Mexican jail. World-class magician/escape-artist Vincent Hardare is on the professional skids--working noisy London clubs, nose-diving from guilt over his wife's accidental death--when he learns that his 16-year-old daughter, Crystal, has been arrested in Mexico on drug charges. But the girl's not guilty, as Swain shows in sexually sadistic crosscuts that emphasize Mexican brutality: in a wrong-man twist, she's been jailed by Mexico's leading drug baron, a corrupt cop who suspects her of being a DEA agent. Enraged, Hardare swears to use his magician's wiles to break his daughter out, squeezing from the American ambassador to London the name of a mercenary, Frank Kincaid. Kincaid will help--for an $80,000 that Hardare gets by risking his life performing a wild underwater escape in a shark-filled pool: the novel's exciting highlight. With Kincaid--and soon a sexy CIA woman disguised as a journalist--in tow, Hardare flies on to Niagara Falls, where he breaks into the Houdini Museum to steal The Houdini Secret--a set of lockpicks--and then it's on to Mexico to free Crystal in a fast-moving flurry of illusions, distractions, escape artistry--and gunplay. Neat premise, lots of action, and loads of amazing magic lore; but Swain doesn't have the authorial sleight-of-hand to disguise workaday prose and pressed-wood characers. Still, a fair diversion--and a natural for the silver screen.