THE MAGICIAN'S TALE by David Hunt

THE MAGICIAN'S TALE

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KIRKUS REVIEW

 A color-blind photographer searches the dark side of San Francisco for the killer of the street Adonis whose sordid life she'd been documenting. Fifteen years ago, Kay Farrow's father and a quartet of other cops put an end to the city's ``T case''--five young hustlers murdered and beheaded--by recusing the sixth victim before he could be killed too. But the victim ended up dying anyway; all the physical evidence mysteriously vanished from the scene; and four of the five cops ended up, like the unknown killer, getting eased into retirement. Now that Tim Lovsey, the beautiful prostitute Kay had been photographing for months, has been killed and dismembered, Kay can't help wondering what her father will have to say about the case, and how it's connected to his own well-publicized failure. Kay, whose photophobia (she sees only shades of gray, and is blinded by bright light) has made her a creature of the night as well, sets out to take another look at Tim's dark world through wraparound shades and a Contex viewfinder--at least until a bunch of tough guys beat her and steal the camera. She learns that although Tim was repeatedly sought out by opera stars and society types, his first loyalty was to his twin sister Ariane--a twin whose life was bound uncannily to his by David deGeoffroy, the ``uncle'' who trained them both to his vocation in magic, worked with them for years, and then watched them vanish with half his savings. It's an extravagantly promising setup, but the unraveling is a letdown: Kay's three problems (connecting Tim's murder to the T case, fingering the killer, tracking down Ariane) turn out to have all too little to do with each other, and to hold all too few surprises in store. As an exercise in atmosphere, though, Hunt's first novel is as glamorously seedy as a pristine print of a vintage film noir. (First printing of 100,000; $125,000 ad/promo)

Pub Date: June 1st, 1997
ISBN: 0-399-14260-6
Page count: 416pp
Publisher: Putnam
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1st, 1997