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Wednesday, October 14, 2015

The Witch of Lime Street by David Jaher

The Witch of Lime Street

by David Jaher

448 Pages

ISBN: 0307451062
ISBN13: 978-0307451064
October 2015
Crown Publishing

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Tricksters, Ghosts and the Occult ...

 Wow! What a fascinating read. David Jaher really did his homework, and it shows! He has put together an unforgettable story from a bygone era when seances, spiritualism, and mediums took center stage...with the Great Houdini determined to prove the whole lot of it fake. Many great minds came together to test the abilities of those who claimed to be communicating with the dead. I was absolutely engrossed, as page after page Jaher takes the reader behind the curtain, revealing the "tricks of the trade."

The main characters, Doyle, Houdini and Crandon are individually fascinating - but the intensity of the rivalry that develops between them and the extent to which each will go to prove their belief, is almost unbelievable. A few times I had to remind myself I was reading nonfiction.

Sir Author Conan Doyle, famous for his Sherlock Holmes books, turned away from Christianity to seek comfort by communicating with the dead via a medium. It was the 1920s, what we fondly think of as the Jazz era - but there was so much more going on. With so many deaths (from the war), people were grieving, they were hurting, and they hungered for some kind of solace...something to help them deal with the loss of loved ones. So many people turned to the occult - seeking answers about the afterlife. Harry Houdini, famous in his own right was determined to pull the curtain back and reveal each and every one a fake, thus debunking spiritualism once and for all. He was so adamant in his beliefs, he tried to get laws passed to jail these tricksters.
Sadly, for the two men, who had once been such good friends, this difference of opinion ended their friendship. And then there was Mina Crandon, a Boston socialite and the darling of the 1920's Spiritualist movement. The way Jaher chronicles the rivalries between these characters is both interesting and fascinating.  Let me just say - Mina Crandon's trial would upset both sides of the debate and bring closure to no one.

 I honestly could not read fast enough. It was difficult to find a stopping point, just for a short break. The Witch of Lime Street reads like a mystery-thriller-documentary...there's so much information, but it is delivered as smoothly as a good bourbon in a 1920's speakeasy. This is part of America's social history that's never been told quite like this. David Jaher has penned a masterfully written, incredibly detailed, wholly engrossing book straight out of the gate. I cannot wait to read his next book - whatever it is!

I rarely rate any book five stars - this is one of those rare books!

Happy Reading,

*I received a courtesy copy of The Witch of Lime Street in exchange for my honest, unbiased opinion.

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