cover image The Man Who Walked Through Walls

The Man Who Walked Through Walls

James Swain. St. Martin's Press, $17.95 (260pp) ISBN 978-0-312-03394-1

Inventing a nephew of the great Houdini, escape artist Vincent Hardare, Swain crams his first novel with hyped-up exploits and characters. Grieving over his wife's recent death, Hardare is performing in London when he learns that his teenaged daughter Crystal is imprisoned in Mexico where she was on holiday from her Connecticut boarding school. Falsely accused of drug-dealing by crooked officials, Crystal and her cell-mate, CIA agent Maria Alvarez, rely on diplomatic measures for their release, but the U.S. government is strangely reluctant to intervene. In desperation, Hardare hires mercenary Frank Kincaid and a female partner, Jan Hargrove, to assist in the hardest trick of his career: breaking into the impenetrable dungeon and rescuing Crystal and Maria. The theatrics are exhaustively detailed but mesmerizing throughout, colored also by explanation of Hardare's marvelous feats, all inspired by Houdini. A magician himself, Swain adds authenticity by revealing some of the secrets of the profession. (Dec.)