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From my blog:

 

The Disappearance Boy of the title is Reggie Rainbow, a magician's assistant in the 1950s. Reggie works for the rather nasty Teddy Brooks, a magician famous for making his glamorous assistants disappear from a box, with Reggie's behind the scenes help of course. 

The book is mainly set in Brighton in 1953, just before the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II. Teddy has won a lucrative contract at the Brighton Grand which could lead to great things if his coronation show goes well. Teddy has recently sacked his last assistant, and taken on Pam. Pam and Reggie strike up a close friendship, which supports them both as the story progresses. 

The novel is based in the world of variety and magic, and the narrator is keen to explain how the disappearance trick is done, telling the reader all about misdirection. The story unfolds slowly, but beautifully. When we first meet Reggie we are told of his childhood polio which has left him with a dodgy left foot, and slowly it becomes clear that the lonely and solitary Reggie is also gay. Being gay in 1953, when homosexuality was still illegal in the UK, was not easy, and the art of illusion is woven into Reggie's personal and professional life. 

As I was reading this I thought it was obvious where the story was going, and where Pam and Reggie would ultimately end up, and then, in the last few chapters I was completely blindsided by the plot. Just like a perfect magic trick, I was lulled in to a false sense of security, and misdirected perfectly.

It is wonderfully written, the narrator talking directly to the reader, and it was a real pleasure to read, evoking the times, places and characters vividly. It isn't fast paced, but it doesn't need to be, it's wonderful to watch Reggie come out of his shell and discover and accept who he is. 

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  • 3 months later...

I just finished this book.  It is compulsively readable.  The plot is strong, the descriptions are evocative, and the character development top-notch.  The magician feels like a total cipher, which seems right, but the other two characters--Reg and Pam are so vivid that it seems that you know them.  In fact, one of my "clues" that things were not entirely as they seemed was when one of the characters

Pam

starts behaving in a way that I described as totally out of character.  Very good recommendation.  Thank you, Nellie.

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