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Masters of Mystery: The Strange Friendship of Arthur Conan Doyle and Harry Houdini [NOOK Book]

Overview


Renowned mystery author Arthur Conan Doyle and famous illusionist Harry Houdini first met in 1920, during the magician's tour of England. At the time, Conan Doyle had given up his lucrative writing career, killing off Sherlock Holmes in the process, in order to concentrate on his increasingly manic interest in Spiritualism. Houdini, who regularly conducted séances in an attempt to reach his late mother, was also infatuated with the idea of what he called a “living afterlife,” though his enthusiasm came to be ...
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Masters of Mystery: The Strange Friendship of Arthur Conan Doyle and Harry Houdini

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Overview


Renowned mystery author Arthur Conan Doyle and famous illusionist Harry Houdini first met in 1920, during the magician's tour of England. At the time, Conan Doyle had given up his lucrative writing career, killing off Sherlock Holmes in the process, in order to concentrate on his increasingly manic interest in Spiritualism. Houdini, who regularly conducted séances in an attempt to reach his late mother, was also infatuated with the idea of what he called a “living afterlife,” though his enthusiasm came to be tempered by his ability to expose fraudulent mediums, many of whom employed crude variations of his own well-known illusions. Using previously unpublished material on the murky relationship between Houdini and Conan Doyle, this sometimes macabre, sometimes comic tale tells the fascinating story of the relationship between two of the most loved figures of the 20th century and their pursuit of magic and lost loved ones.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“Absorbing and prodigiously researched . . . Houdini's and Conan Doyle's life stories, together and separately, have been told before, but Masters of Mystery is a worthy addition to the long shelf of existing work about these remarkable men.”—Seattle Times

 

“Veteran celebrity biographer Sandford brings together two fierce yet mutually respectful antagonists on the subject of spiritualism…A fascinating account of an unlikely relationship.”—Kirkus Reviews

"Rivetingly chronicles the eternal persistence of humbug, chicanery and that inextinguishable human trait we call 'hope.'"—Arthur Magida, author of The Nazi Séance

“A must read…  a fascinating insight into Houdini’s daily life and his unique relationship with Sir Arthur Conan Doyle… provided a great amount of new relevant historical facts and details that have been heretofore hidden from Houdini followers… Sandford’s reverse engineering of Houdini’s thought process makes the reader feel they are in the company of the Houdini and his contemporaries… I couldn’t put the book down.” Geno Munari, President, Houdini Picture Corporation, Houdini, Houdini Magic.

Kirkus Reviews
Veteran celebrity biographer Sandford (Polanski, 2008, etc.) brings together two fierce yet mutually respectful antagonists on the subject of spiritualism. The title is doubly misleading. The friendship between the most popular author and the greatest illusionist of their time occupies only the middle third of this volume, and the friendship was never all that friendly. The two famous figures, Sandford concedes, enjoyed "a love-hate relationship…that eventually tilted toward the latter" after only two years in their eventful lives. Doyle's deepening interest in communicating with the dead, which Sandford traces back to at least 1887, the year A Study in Scarlet first appeared, blossomed into firm belief after his son's death of influenza in 1916. Houdini, who described himself to Doyle as "a skeptic, but a seeker after the truth" in a letter he wrote Doyle soon after their correspondence began in 1920, had meanwhile set up shop as a world-class debunker of bogus mediums and their claims to channel astral voices and paranormal phenomena. It was inevitable that the two men--each prodigiously ambitious, persistent and self-confident--should have been drawn to each other. But not even a 1922 séance--in which the two were joined by Doyle's wife, who under their eyes produced 15 pages of automatic writing she claimed to have been inspired by Houdini's late mother--could convince the skeptic. Instead, his dissent from belief in the miracle led to the rupture of a relationship that had been fragile at best. More a double portrait than an account of a friendship, but a fascinating account of an unlikely relationship framed in a good deal of lightly sourced dual biography.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780230341586
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Press
  • Publication date: 11/22/2011
  • Sold by: Macmillan
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 304
  • Sales rank: 508,612
  • File size: 2 MB

Meet the Author


Christopher Sandford has published acclaimed biographies of Kurt Cobain, Steve McQueen, Eric Clapton, Mick Jagger, David Bowie, Paul McCartney, Keith Richards, Bruce Springsteen and Roman Polanski. He has worked as a film and music writer and reviewer for over twenty years, and frequently contributes to newspapers and magazines on both sides of the Atlantic. Rolling Stone has called him "the pre-eminent author in his field today." Sandford divides his time between Seattle and London.
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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments ix

1 Parallel Lives 1

2 Dr. Conan Doyle and the Prince of the Air 17

3 Metamorphosis 43

4 Piercing the Veil 99

5 "Saul among the Prophets" 125

6 The Blonde Witch of Lime Street 153

7 Double Exposure 179

8 Pheneas Speaks 205

9 "There Is No Death" 237

Sources and Chapter Notes 269

Bibliography 274

Index 275

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 5
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Sort by: Showing all of 3 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 2, 2014

    Candyhunter654@gmail

    Im just keeping it here so that i dont forget. -rohan

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 16, 2012

    Excellent narrative

    Though the dichotomy of Doyle and Houdini is apparent, the similarities are noteworthy. The author does a very good job in representing both men fairly. He is able to "weave" both biographies in a balanced and interesting way. I found this a very enjoyable read.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 3, 2013

    No text was provided for this review.

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