The Footprints on the Ceiling

ruined head

The Footprints on the Ceiling | The Great Merlini #2
Clayton Rawson | International Polygonics | 1987 (first published 1939) | 256 pages

The Great Merlini, stage magician and amateur detective, returns to assist the New York police in the puzzling murder of an agoraphobic woman on her estate located on a private island in the East River. Sharing a few of the locked-door genre foundations of his first case, Death from a Top Hat, this second installment instead ramps up the nested mysteries enfolding its extended cast of eccentric characters, diffusing the traditional challenge to the reader to solve the crime and enhancing a breathless pursuit of a series of improbable twists and turns.

Merlini is invited to remote Skelton Island to gauge the legitimacy of a psychic medium who is staging a series of seances. Immediately upon arrival, however, he discovers the body of wealthy family matriarch…

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