cover image The Great Bravura

The Great Bravura

Jill Dearman. She Writes, $16.95 trade paper (203p) ISBN 978-1-63152-989-4

Dearman's inspired if flawed first novel charts the efforts of a brash female magician in 1948 to reconcile her feelings for two very different women. The Great Bravura, daughter of renowned con artist Se%C3%B1or Bravura, performs a successful magic act at the Club Algeria in New York City with her faithful assistant%E2%80%94and sometimes lover%E2%80%94Susie, a country girl with an overly stylized Brooklyn accent. When the club owner tells them that the routine needs new blood, Bravura and Susie audition for an assistant and meet the mysterious Lena, with whom Bravura is instantly smitten. A romantic relationship quickly develops, with Susie becoming the third wheel, so when Susie vanishes from the Disappearing Box contraption, it's suspected that Bravura had a hand in dispatching her former best friend. Lena, who's a strange combination of smoldering temptress (complete with a cultish father figure and two lesbian mothers) and recalcitrant child, tries to lead Bravura down a dangerous path, but the magician eventually realizes that she must go back to her own disastrous past%E2%80%94namely, her father's betrayal of her%E2%80%94to find clues to Susie's disappearance and her own redemption. Journalist Dearman (Bang the Keys) hams up the period-specific dialogue, cheapening what could have been an intriguing love story spiked with crime. (Nov.)