Monday, May 3, 2010

Of Ghosts and Magic by Alfred M. Albers

Reviewed for

Despite the title of this book, it is primarily cheerful, with an undercurrent of mystery surrounding the strange disappearance of a Vietnam vet 26 years previously. Alex Holloman had returned home after his stint in Vietnam, but lost his parents in a horrible freak accident a few months later.  After celebrating New Year's eve with his cousin Stella Noone, he walked out into the night and simply vanished.

Stella and Alex had been very close. Both were also close with his best friend, John Michaels, the three a tightly knit group.  John was also a Vietnam vet who had returned several months earlier and became over the next few years a world-renowned magician. Alex's disappearance made an incredible hole in the lives of both Stella and John.

When John receives an invitation in 2000 to their high school 30 year reunion, he immediately calls Stella. Over the years he was touring with his magic show, he had gradually been in contact with her less often. The reunion is the link that begins the chain of action, renewal, and reconnection of friendships. It is the catalyst that begins the search for Alex.

Alfred M. Albers has written a wonderful book of relationships and how they work or don't work, as well as a very interesting glimpse of magic from the inside out. John is asked to bring his magic act out of retirement as the main entertainment for the reunion.

The storyline is unexpected and great to relax with in a comfy chair; the portrayal of the people of New York was a nice surprise from the overtly rude citizens often portrayed in books.

The reunion itself brings happy memories to this reader, memories so often shared at these events and the wonderful camaraderie that ensues. The magic show is a huge success and the evening ends on a very high note.

Unexpectedly, this was not the end of the book. The author still has more to say, but it is far from a letdown. This is the point at which relationships become a major factor in the story. Misunderstandings, psychological effects on the Vietnam war survivors, especially those who suffer further trauma after returning home, as so many did, tie up the loose strings into a neat package.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It kept my interest, taught me something about dealing with depression, a little bit of magic, and the difference friends can make in one's life.

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