"Maxwell conducts a ritual every spring up on Sunrise Mountain. He told me he gets power from it, that it's the source of his great talent and fame. I thought it was nuts."

Sleight of hand abounds in this captivating murder mystery played out beneath the glittering lights of Las Vegas. The trickery, however, isn't with cards or coins but with the story, plot, and characters. The author pulls readers in with one hand while her other is engaged in a bit of literary legerdemain that keeps everyone guessing until the final illusion is laid bare for all to see.

Appropriate for its larger-than-life locale, the tale gets off to a spectacular start with Maxwell, the world's greatest magician, performing a death-defying escape never before attempted. He is locked and chained on the tracks of a roller coaster directly in the path of a speeding car filled with riders. With the world watching, things go tragically wrong, and what initially appears to be accidental mayhem turns out to be premeditated murder. What follows is a whodunit filled with fascinating suspects. There's the magician's usurped mentor, who has been cast aside. There's a denounced and abandoned son. Additional suspects include an underappreciated business manager, an ambitious protégé, a betrayed ex-wife, a battered ex-girlfriend, plus multiple minor magicians frequently made so by Maxwell's bully-boy theft of their best tricks.

Author Hamilton anchors her story around Cheri, a local police detective trying to raise her fatherless son and help her needy sister while solving a case that involves individuals from her past. Like a talented Vegas juggler, Hamilton does an impressive job of economically fleshing out her protagonist's character, weaving an intricate plot while never retarding pace, and keeping readers guessing not only about who's really the killer but also about what's really going on. In essence, this book is an enjoyable read from a writer particularly skilled in the art of entertainment.

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