THE SÉANCE by Iain Lawrence


Age Range: 11 & up
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Thirteen-year-old Scooter King’s mom is a medium, and he’s not amused by the “Oh yeah, well my mom’s a large” joke. As a spirit-summoner’s son, his weekly chores include facilitating séances with the usual tricks of the trade: cheesecloth faces, hoof-beat simulation, whispering voices and the like. Scooter’s encounters with the dead soon become all too real when he inadvertently stumbles upon the corpse of Herman Day, submerged in Houdini’s Burmese Torture Tank in Boston’s Orpheum Theater. A natural detective, Scooter boldly begins investigating Day’s murder and finds himself face-to-face with Harry Houdini himself: world-famous escape artist and, to Scooter’s mother’s dismay, crusader against fraudulent mediums. The first-person perspective is punchy and engaging, but the excess of ’20s lingo (“chump,” “eel’s hips,” “a lot of applesauce,” etc.) occasionally lends a distracting flippancy to the dramatic, sometimes genuinely poignant story. Drawing from several true stories, Lawrence has crafted an elaborate, fun, fast-paced murder mystery with a rich sense of time and place. (afterword, acknowledgments, about the author) (Historical fiction. 11 & up)

Pub Date: July 8th, 2008
ISBN: 978-0-385-73375-5
Page count: 272pp
Publisher: Delacorte
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15th, 2008


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