Thursday, October 06, 2016

31 Days of Halloween - Day 6

The Witch of Lime Street by David Jaher
Crown. 2015.

In the 1920s, in the wake of World War I, Spiritualism boomed in popularity as people yearned to know that their lost sons and husbands continued to exist after death, and hoped that they could still communicate with their loved ones. Drawn to believe in Spiritualism was celebrated author, Arthur Conan Doyle, following the death of his own son. Drawn to Spiritualism with a desire to find proof that it was real, and not a sham, was Houdini, who longed to communicate with his dear mother.

Houdini spent a lot of his time traveling and debunking mediums everywhere he went, often with great ease. Then along came Mina Stinson Crandon, a Boston woman, known to the world as "Margery" who was skilled enough in her performance that a scientific inquiry into the validity of her claims to communicate with spirits was about to declare her the genuine thing. Houdini didn't believe it though, and his efforts to prove her claims false proved to be problematic.

Jaher's book covers a fascinating rivalry with real drama and intrigue. My only quibble is that much of the material is presented without specific dates, making the timing of events difficult to keep track of, especially when there are a few points where the story jumps back and forth in time. Otherwise this was an interesting reading experience.

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