The Bullet Catch (Eli Marks 2) by John Gaspard

the bullet catchMagic, movies and murder…

😀 😀 😀 😀 😀

When stage magician Eli Marks is talked into attending his High School reunion by an old friend, Jake North, he suddenly finds himself entangled in two potentially deadly situations. An up-and-coming actor, Jake is in the middle of shooting a film about a magic trick that went wrong, resulting in the death of the magician. But Jake fears that someone is out to kill him and means to do so during the filming of the trick. So he asks Eli to come along as his magic consultant to make sure no-one can tamper with the trick. Then during the reunion Eli meets up with the girl he had a major crush on at school, the gorgeous Trish Henry. She showed no interest in him back then, but falls into conversation with him now and they spend the evening chatting. It’s something of a pity that she’s married – especially since her husband Dylan had a reputation at school of being one of the bad boys, and doesn’t seem to have improved with time. And when he’s murdered later that same night, Eli finds himself getting sucked into the investigation.


I loved Gaspard’s first book about Eli, The Ambitious Card, and ended my review with the fervent hope that we’d meet him again. I’m delighted to say this book is just as much fun. Eli is a truly likeable protagonist, intelligent and humorous, but with no pretensions to be a superhero. He’s currently single since Megan, his girlfriend from the last book, felt they were rushing things and suggested they take a break. He still wants things to work out with Megan but feels the pull of his old attraction to Trish, especially when she seems to be clinging to him as she tries to cope after her husband’s murder. Other old friends from the previous book put in appearances too. Eli is still living with his elderly uncle Harry, and their relationship is one of the things I like best about the series – it’s realistic and touching without being in any way mawkish, and their interactions provide much of the humour and warmth in the book. Harry’s group of elderly magician friends are fun to spend time with, as well as providing Eli with a great source of information about magic tricks of all kinds. And Franny the phone psychic is back in a minor role, still surprisingly spot-on with some of her predictions.

John Gaspard
John Gaspard

The plotting in this one is actually better than in the first, I think. The darker strand about Dylan’s murder is beautifully balanced by the more humorous strand about Jake and the film set. Gaspard has had real-life experience of directing low-budget films and clearly had fun sending the process up a little. There’s a whole bunch of slightly caricatured characters, from the harassed director to the embittered writer. And the book is laced with references to great classic films, making me want to go back and re-watch most of them. Overall, this is shaping up to be one of my favourite series – not quite light enough to be cosies, but warm and amusing, and great fun! I hope Mr Gaspard is hard at work on the next one…

NB This book was provided for review by the publisher, Henery Press.

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34 thoughts on “The Bullet Catch (Eli Marks 2) by John Gaspard

  1. This really does sound like fun, FictionFan! And I always love it when the second in a series lives up to the promise of the first. I think I must try these novels out. Oh, and thanks for that Penn & Teller vid. I’ve seen them perform live; they’re just spectacular. They’re very pleasant in person too. When Mr. COAMN and I saw them, they came out to the lobby after their performance and greeted everyone, posed for ‘photos, the whole thing. Couldn’t have been more courteous through what I’m sure must have been a tiring (and probably tiresome) part of the evening.


    • Oh lucky you! I’d love to see them live – I think they’re great! And wasn’t that generous of them? I don’t know many performers who’d take the time to do that – in fact, I can’t think of any. We don’t get to see them too often even on TV over here, but they did a little series recently where they challenged budding magicians to come up with a trick they couldn’t explain, with the prize being that the newcomer got to appear on their stage show in the States. It was a lot of fun, and they were really kind to all the contestants.


  2. That looks like a winner! Sometimes when one is reviewing books you have to “kiss a lot of frogs before you find the handsome prince.” But it sure makes up for it when you find a great book.


  3. I wish my high school reunions were filled with these kinds of characters. Anything but boring. Or maybe it’s best that they aren’t, considering what might happen.

    Are Penn and Teller still performing? I think I saw them in NY back in the 90s. Not the 1890s, mind you. Or maybe, we saw them after we moved to SF. I think I dropped my memory somewhere else this morning. I recall them being hilarious.


    • It’s not such a tradition over here – I reckon we’re not willing to let our old friends know that we didn’t achieve all those lofty ambitions we had! I still look out for my old high-achieving classmates showing up in positions of power or influence – to date, nada! Maybe they’ll be big in the Senior Citizens organisations…

      I think they’re still going strong. I’d love to see them live – I think they’re brilliant, and I can never work out how they do it…

      Liked by 1 person

  4. You have me really intrigued especially after your review of The Ambitious Card but I think I need to start there to get the maximum enjoyment out of these. It does sound like it has those elements I enjoy in a book, especially a good plot and contrasting strands to the story. Neither is on my TBR yet but…. only because it’s late in the month and despite my dodgy accounting system I have been caught with more than 5 books entering the household already 😉


    • Ah but the ones you bought when you were poorly don’t count! (I hate to tell you this but it’s only the 17th… 😉 ) These are great fun, and standalone, but you get to know the characters better if you read them in order. Probably a bit lighter than your usual fare though…


  5. This looks interesting. It’s different from the norm which gives it brownie points straight away! I’ve had a horrendously slow reading month this month and I really need to catch up. I’ll bear this one in mind if I do see it somewhere though. Thank you.


    • Yes, definitely a bit different from the usual fare, and a good strong plot even though the overall tone is quite light. I’ve just hit a bit of a reading wall myself this week, so I know what you mean, but if you ever do get a chance to read this I hope you enjoy it!


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