Wednesday, December 1, 2010

The Witch of Lime Street will haunt bookstores in 2012

Back in December, 2007, The New York Observer reported that Crown had acquired a non-fiction book about Houdini by David Jaher for an advance in the “high six figures.” Titled The Witch of Lime Street, the book would tell the full story of Houdini’s campaign to expose medium Mina "Margery" Crandon, and would be released "in early 2010."

But as 2010 comes to a close, there is no sign of The Witch of Lime Street. My inquires sent to the publisher and Jaher's reps earlier this year went unanswered, leading me to wonder whether The Witch of Lime Street was as phony as...well...the witch of Lime Street.

So I decided to try again. This time, happily, I received a prompt response!

The friendly representative for the agency who handled the sale, Janklow & Nesbit, says, "David Jaher is still working on the book, after undertaking intense and thorough research. I’m afraid we have no pub date as of yet – my best guess is that it will be out in 2012. It is going to be phenomenal."

Publisher Crown responded with a direct, "This book will be published in 2012."

Very excited about this one. It's about time we had an entire book on Houdini and Margery. But will it be pro or con?

Stay tuned!

The battle resumes in 2012

UPDATE: 'The Witch of Lime Street' will finally manifest in October (pre-order).


  1. How can a book that hasn't even been written yet be worth "high six figures" to a publisher?

  2. Well, it's an "advance", a fee paid to the author that allows him to take the time to write the book. Many books like this are sold on a pitch/proposal and sample chapters.

    I gotta say, it's an extraordinary high advance for a book like this. When I explored the idea of an getting an advance to do a Houdini book, my agent told me I'd be lucky to get ten grand. That's really why I haven't written my Houdini book yet. I just can't afford to do it.

  3. John, you'd be just the person to do it. Someone advance that man the money!

  4. The book I'd write would be about Houdini in film. And we're talking 1901 right up to present day. It would be awesome. I have a nice proposal all written up and even got a few nibbles from publishers, but a guy's gotta eat! I'd need an advance that would at least match my screenwriting income so I could take a full year off and really research the book properly. Maybe some day. It's my dream. :)

  5. Glad to hear that this book WILL be written after all. I've been looking forward to it! Thanks for the info. John.

  6. By the way...You have your first customer right here when you DO write your book! :))

  7. Thank you, Tracy. :)

    I posted this on the Genii forums (but I never get a response to anything there), but I really am uncertain whether this book will be pro or con. There's something about how the original article described it as being about Houdini's attempt to "discredit" Margery.

    Odd to think there are still pro-Margery forces out there, but when you start talking about communicating with the dead, well, people can get freaky. Does anyone here know anything about David Jaher?

  8. It seems there is a David Jaher who is an astrologer and a David Jaher who is a screenwriter. Or are they one and the same????? I hope somebody else knows or can find more than I.

    Given the effort Houdini put into discrediting that type of medium, I too am surprised that there are pro-Margery people still around. I have my own theory on why people continue to be drawn to this stuff but this isn't the place for it.

    It will be interesting to find out more about the author and the book.

  9. John Cox: "Odd to think there are still pro-Margery forces out there."

    “As a result of more than forty sittings with Margery, I have arrived at the definite conclusion that genuine supernormal phenomena frequently occur. Many of the observed manifestations might well have been produced fraudulently . . . however, there remains a number of instances when phenomena were produced and observed under practically perfect control.”
    Hereward Carrington



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