Deft hocus-pocus from Stashower (The Adventure of the Ectoplasmic Man), who is so charming with his illusions that the reader will forgive the bit of a nonsensical mess his plot gets itself into. Bar-tricks-for-bucks illusionist Paul, who is following in the family business (the elder Galliard was a world-class magician until he died while attempting the "caught bullet" trick on TV), inherits one of his dad's chum's trunk of tricks when the old-timer dies blowing up balloons. Soon Paul's almost killed by them too (poisoned nozzles); another of his pop's cronies is murdered (a dove trick gone amok); and yet another old pro, who also appeared on TV that fateful night, thinks he might be next. With the help of Clara, a tart but sympathetic newswoman who finds an old kinescope; hostile interviews with NYPD Lt. Chasfield; WW II folderol from the lips of the remaining old-timer (they all served as magician spies in a traveling circus); and a reenactment of the "caught bullet" trick again on TV, Paul unmasks the murderer while uncovering the corpse who wasn't. Messy and overcomplicated war set-up, and an undermotivated killer; but the pace is breezy, the magic entrancing. A repeat performance for Paul would be welcome.