The life of a magician isn't all kiddie shows and card tricks. Sometimes it's murder. Especially when magician Eli Marks very publicly debunks a famed psychic, and said psychic ends up dead. The evidence, including a bloody King of Diamonds playing card (one from Eli's own Ambitious Card routine), directs the police right to Eli.
As more psychics are slain, and more King cards rise to the top, Eli can't escape suspicion. Things get really complicated when romance blooms with a beautiful psychic, and Eli discovers she's the next target for murder, and he's scheduled to die with her. Now Eli must use every trick he knows to keep them both alive and reveal the true killer.
©2013 John Gaspard (P)2015 John Gaspard
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"I'm surprised how much I liked this book."
I'm surprised how much I liked this book. I was almost immediately drawn into the story and the characters. Eli has a dry sense of humor that works for the character and his occupation. The relationships are complex, but not difficult to follow. While I did figure out the murderer fairly early on, I was still surprised by the motives and the murders.
Jim Cunningham was the perfect choice for this book. He got the dry humor and the timing that goes with it.
**I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.**
This was very entertaining beginning to a new cozy mystery series. It was funny, witty and well developed with engrossing characters. I didn't want to put the book down until I finished it. I hope the rest of the books in the series will be made available on Audible.
"It was excellent, and it seemed realistic"
The Ambitious Card is an ambitious book to my mind because it promptly reminded me of two other books, which forced comparison. But it comes comes out on top I think, in both counts. First of all, the magicians and psychics made me think of Christopher Priest’s The Prestige, which I didn’t particularly like. But Gaspard breaks that tie quickly by giving us characters that are actually likable, even lovable (I love Uncle Harry). Also a plot that is quite interesting. I am fascinated by magic and illusions and this book has quite a few references to the real stuff, and ties it in well, without info dumping. I also enjoyed all the references to the comedians and magicians of the mid twentieth century. I’ve got some new ones to look up.
The second book that came to mind was Agatha Christie’s The ABC Murders, which I do particularly like. (I also particularly like the word “particularly” so expect to see it in my future reviews) That made me start speculating on the killer, but Gaspard managed to keep me guessing up to the end even with that hint.
Another thing this book actually reminded me of was Charles Dickens. Many of the characters have traits that are blown all out of proportion. I LOVED it. It was excellent, and it seemed realistic, partly because all these magicians and psychics are entertainers and are that way in real life, and partly because they were just hilariously, brilliantly done. I enjoyed them all thoroughly.
There is some sexual content that is graphic enough not to be appropriate children, as well as an implied lesbian relationship. It also deals with the subject of divorce and a couple of adulterous relationships.
Production-wise I have no complaints, the sound was excellent, consistent volume, no strange effects on any voices. I typically don’t like music in my audiobooks, but the intro and outro were kept short, and the the music just fit the book perfectly.
Jim Cunningham was fabulous. He captured the tone of the book in his delivery, and I loved all his voices. Particularly Harry and Frannie. Every word was clear, and all the characters were distinct. There was one point that I would have liked to have heard some effects on his voice because of what was happening in the story, but on the other hand, that could have been distracting, and potentially difficult to understand.
I’m looking forward to reading the rest of the series..
Audiobook was provided for review by the author.
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"A Great Find!"
I went into this story expecting an easy listen and was pleasantly surprised to discover a very well written novel that kept my attention until the end. I was especially pleased with the small amount of magicians secrets and references to cherished and classic magic tricks that I have always loved. I was impressed how the author weaved a magician as a character into a mystery solving sleuth. I'm very picky about those books I choose to listen to and will be picking up book two in the series shortly!
As to the narration, 5 stars. Jim Cunningham nailed it and I look forward more of his work!
* I received a free copy of this book for an honest review from AudioBookBlast.
"I can hardly wait for the next book!"
Let me just say that I love magic, I love cozy mysteries, and boy did I love this book! The narration was wonderful and compelling, and I felt pulled into the story from the very beginning with the wonderful cast of characters who were very well developed. I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review, and I can truly say that I have fallen in love with this new series, and if audible makes the other books available I will use a credit to buy it in a heartbeat. Eli has a great sense of humor that is often dry and misunderstood by his friends, which makes it even more entertaining as a listener. Also, I thoroughly enjoyed the uncle, his character offered a charming grumpy old man who I wanted to give a hug to! I hope audible hurries up with the rest!
"Cute book. Good plot"
Great listen. The narration is spot on. The plot was intriguing. I recommend this to any one who aspired to be a Magician, is a magician or likes magic shows.
"Clever, funny, interesting and entertaining"
I bought this after listening to his 2nd book. I liked it so much I had to see where it started. I liked this one more but it may be because of the familiarity with the characters. I really enjoyed all the New Age humor without making too much fun of it.
I have this author in my category of 'smart humor' along with Spencer Quinn, David Rosenfelt and Janet Evanovich.
I look very forward to more!!
"An Ambitious Story of Magic"
It's a pretty good book, especially if you enjoy magic. I really enjoyed listening to the explanations of the debunking (or skeptic, sorry) of the magic and psychic readings. As a thriller, the prologue allowed me to carry on during one or two slower moments. Being invested when the story would reach the flash-forward from the prologue helped me get to the next part with ease.
I enjoyed the magic explanations a lot.
Jim did a great job in creating the characters through vocal inflections, especially Harry. He was my favorite character simply due to Jim's interpretation.
No real extreme reactions, really. There were times when I knew the dry wit of the main character was intended to have some comic relief, but the dialogue just sometimes made Eli sound like a jerk more than sarcasm, even though Jim Cunningham did his best with the words he had to read.
This audiobook was provided by the author, narrator, or publisher at no cost in exchange for an unbiased review courtesy of AudiobookBlast.com.
"A mystery worth its weight in fun and suspense!"
The story never slowed down. It's was quick, humorous, and didn't dilly dally in non-essential bits that didn't move the story forward.
The main character was very well developed. A quick witted everyday hero that felt like a real person, with real feelings, and reactions to the story's world.
Jim is a fantastic narrator. He pulled the embedded humor right off the page, delivering a flawless performance. His ability to liven narrative passages as well as his superb dialogue and characterizations made the audio version stand on its own as a brilliant piece of performance art.
Without giving away any spoilers, every scene with the Uncle was performed so well that I immediately fell in love with the character. Especially the tarot reading.
Overall, this was a great listen and would recommend it to anyone that finds this genre interesting.
***I received this audiobook via Audioblast for free in return for my honest review and am quite happy to have found this gem that I may have otherwise overlooked.
"Interesting story, but a bit heavy on the magic"
The narrator was quite good, what kept him from being a 5 star narrator was the not so female voices for women and the fact that he didn't use special voices when a couple of the characters were talking after inhaling helium.
There was a scene where Eli has a psychic encounter that was unusual and amusing.
No, this was the first performance by him that I have heard.
I found bits mildly amusing, but no laugh out loud moments. There were no sad moments that I can recall unless the reader was incredibly sappy and found a couple of reference's to Harry's dead wife as sad.
"This audiobook was provided by the author, narrator, or publisher at no cost in exchange for an unbiased review courtesy of Audiobook Blast." That said, I may not have finished this book if I hadn't already read books 2 and 3. (I got those books from Netgalley in exchange for honest reviews. I got confused thinking The Ambitious Card was book 4, so I read them in ebook form before listening to TAC.) It was just over the 2 hour mark (22%) before the mystery aspect started. Before that there was a lot of set up but most was about magic, performing it, the history, references to old and current performers, etc. Too much for me. If I wasn't already invested in the series I would have given up. It's pretty heavy in the following books, but not quite as much.
Now that I've read and listened to the three books currently available, I give the books high marks on being detail packed reads with very different story lines written in a slightly amusing way. Some readers looking for a mystery may find there's too much magic talk and not enough mystery, especially in this first book.
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