Houdini Unbound

Alan Attwood

Houdini Unbound
Melbourne Books
30 April 2024

Houdini Unbound

Alan Attwood

It is 1910. Halley's Comet is coming. Harry Houdini is in Australia for the first time. The most celebrated escape artist in the world has sold-out seasons in both Melbourne and Sydney.

Houdini has a new obsession - aviation. He has brought with him from Europe his own Voisin biplane, being put together and prepared in a Diggers Rest paddock by his French mechanic, Brassac. Houdini is intent on claiming a record - first to fly in Australia. But he has competition from aspiring aviators in several states, and is left restless and distracted when his promotional leap-in-chains from a Melbourne bridge disturbs a corpse in the Yarra.

Meanwhile, his wife Bess, left alone in their hotel, stumbles upon her own mystery - music with no apparent source. Then she realises that her preoccupied husband is far from being the most famous visitor to Australia. Also present, though in hiding, is an Italian composer who has performed his own vanishing act.

This intriguing story, set in the year of Halley's Comet, merges history and invention, reality and illusion. Like Houdini's own act, is it possible to believe what you see or hear?

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