Thursday, January 27, 2011

New Houdini fiction coming in June

The mighty Arthur Moses alerts us to some new Houdini mash up fiction coming in June. Escape Artist: An Edna Ferber Mystery by Ed Ifkovic finds Houdini teaming up with a nineteen-year-old Edna Ferber to solve a baffling murder in his old hometown of Appleton, Wisconsin.

In 1904 Edna Ferber is a nineteen-year-old girl reporter for the Appleton, Wisconsin Crescent, an occupation that many townspeople, including her own family, consider scandalous for a proper young girl. By chance, she interviews Harry Houdini, in town visiting old friends. Houdini, as Ehrich Weiss, spent his boyhood years in the small town. When Frana Lempke, a beautiful young German high-school girl, disappears and is soon discovered murdered, Edna asks Houdini for help in solving the murder. The unusual crime baffles the local police because Frana mysteriously disappeared from a locked room at the high school. Houdini, the celebrated escape artist, takes a liking to Edna and agrees to help. But as Edna pursues the story, alienating any number of people, she senses that she is being followed. It’s a troubling summer for her. Her homelife is in disorder, though she is dedicated to a blind father. Her mother and sister dislike her walking the streets as a reporter. Worse, the newsroom has become a hostile environment, with a new city editor determined to undermine her. Piecing together the clues, she comes to see that her own life in the small town is unraveling. As the future best-selling writer starts to solve the crime, she understands that her involvement will impact her life forever.

Sounds pretty good! Escape Artist: An Edna Ferber Mystery will be released on June 7, 2011 from Poisoned Pen Press. It can be pre-ordered now at Amazon.


  1. Ferber, whose father was a Hungarian-born Jew, writes a bit in her autobiography about interviewing Houdini when she was a cub reporter and he was famous and revisiting Appleton. I don't have my copy with me.

  2. Oh, she really interviewed Houdini? Cool.


  4. Oh, yes, of course. That's a famous interview, but I never really knew who Edna Ferber was so I didn't make the connection. I think there's even a plaque in Appleton on the spot where this interview was conducted.

  5. In the autobiography, "A Peculiar Treasure," she says this about Houdini: "Celebrities didn't come our way often. When Houdini, the Handuff King, arrived with his show he got shorter shrift than he deserved, being a home-town boy. Before my day he had been a local product, Harry Weiss, the son of a Russian Jewish rabbi. Failing to find him at his hotel or at the theater I encountered him by chance on College Avenue at the drugstore corner just across from the Crescent (newspaper) office. Outside the store was the usual slot machine containing chocolate and chewing gum. As he chatted affably with me Houdini leaned carelessly against this. At the end of the interview he dropped a cold metal object into my hand. 'There's the padlock to this slot machine,' he said. 'Better give it to the drugstore man. Somebody'll steal all his chewing gum.' I hadn't seen so much as a movement of his fingers. Tottering with admiration I went back to the office to write my story."