Not really a novel, but a well-detailed master plan of the mechanics of deception in both personal and professional life, through a fictionalized biography of an imaginary character. Here is Balsamo, born Bernard Grossman of Brooklyn, whose choice of a career as a prestidigitator brought him worldwide fame, despite the belittling of his family. He studied under a master in a Coney Island show and then eloped with his employer's wife and toured with carnival shows. He tires of her and turns to Myna, hoping to bring in big money as a medium. But a scandal involving the exploitation of a client sent him back to magic-and his special enthusiasm, escape. Eventually, attempting escape from a specially constructed box, without his special tools, he is killed. Successful characterization-but not too successful a novel.