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The Magic Bullet: A Locked Room Mystery Featuring Shadwell Rafferty and Sherlock Holmes [Hardcover]

Larry Millett

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Book Description

March 29 2011 Minnesota Mysteries
St. Paul, Minnesota. October 1, 1917. High above the city, a renowned local financier named Artemis Dodge lies facedown on the floor of his armored penthouse sanctuary, a single bullet hole in his head. Thirty stories up, in the city’s tallest building, and not a shred of evidence or sign pointing to anyone having broken into the wealthy man’s fortress. It is—to all appearances—an impossible crime.

Enter Shadwell Rafferty: Irishman, St. Paul saloonkeeper, sometime detective, and old friend of the celebrated sleuth Sherlock Holmes. Summoned by Louis B. Hill—son of railroad magnate James J. Hill—to investigate, Rafferty descends into a world dominated by greedy tycoons and awash in political intrigue and wartime fearmongering. Suspects lurk in every corner of the city—including Dodge’s beautiful young widow, his slippery assistant, and a shadowy anarchist—and Rafferty pursues them from the streets of Ramsey Hill and the rooms of the Ryan Hotel to the labyrinthine caves under the Schmidt brewery. Matching wits with his foes at the police department and his unsavory rival, the St. Paul detective Mordecai Jones, Rafferty knows that in order to bring a killer to justice he must first unravel the riddle of a single bullet fired in a locked room, three hundred feet above the streets of St. Paul.

Set during a bitter streetcar strike and amid the clandestine activities of a ruthless commission charged with enforcing wartime patriotism, Larry Millett has created a classic and perfectly executed locked-room mystery in the great tradition of John Dickson Carr. From locked rooms and civil unrest to murder and wartime paranoia, The Magic Bullet presents Rafferty’s most challenging case, and its gripping conclusion—with a timely assist from Sherlock Holmes—finds both Rafferty and Millett at the top of their games.


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Review

"Millett’s excellent sixth Sherlock Holmes pastiche featuring Shadwell Rafferty offers a tantalizing, impossible crime. . . . John Dickson Carr fans will appreciate this intelligent homage to the master of the locked-room mystery." —Publishers Weekly, starred review
 
 
"Diabolically clever . . . This book works, first of all, as a classic locked-room puzzle in the John Dickson Carr tradition. It brings back the World War I look and feel of old St. Paul (Minnesotans, especially, will love this series, as will anyone interested in architecture), along with an expert overview of the tensions (a streetcar strike, civil unrest) of the time. Engaging characters and a hold-your-breath plot also make this one an all-around winner." —Booklist
 
 
"Strongly recommended, especially for fans of locked room mysteries." —Mystery Scene Magazine
 
 
"Larry Millett’s pen remains as sharp as a bullet. The Magic Bullet is sure to introduce the classic locked-room mystery to a whole new generation of mystery lovers. And what a mystery! I found the story’s twists and turns through the streets of my old hometown both dazzling and maddening at the same time." —Steve Thayer, author of The Weatherman and Saint Mudd


"Diabolically clever . . . This book works, first of all, as a classic locked-room puzzle in the John Dickson Carr tradition. It brings back the World War I look and feel of old St. Paul (Minnesotans, especially, will love this series, as will anyone interested in architecture), along with an expert overview of the tensions (a streetcar strike, civil unrest) of the time. Engaging characters and a hold-your-breath plot also make this one an all-around winner." —Booklist



"Millett’s excellent sixth Sherlock Holmes pastiche featuring Shadwell Rafferty offers a tantalizing, impossible crime. . . . John Dickson Carr fans will appreciate this intelligent homage to the master of the locked-room mystery." —Publishers Weekly

About the Author

Larry Millett was a reporter and architecture critic for the St. Paul Pioneer Press for thirty years. He is the author of fifteen books, including five other mystery novels in the series featuring Sherlock Holmes and Shadwell Rafferty, all forthcoming in new editions from the University of Minnesota Press.

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.1 out of 5 stars  8 reviews
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Shadwell Rafferty is back Dec 29 2011
By S. L. Cheek - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I'm so glad to see Mr. Millett back with his famous detective; it's true that Sherlock Holmes only appears for a short vignette, but who cares? I bought this so I could read about Rafferty. He hasn't quite caught his stride with this character yet; it lacks the humor of the earlier books, but it's still delightful. John Dickson Carr fans take note; this locked room mystery is a tribute to that mystery author.
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Entertaining Locked Room Mystery June 13 2011
By Ohioan - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I don't naturally gravitate toward locked-room mysteries, though I don't avoid them, either. This is one that I read with enthusiasm and pleasure. First, I enjoyed the mystery itself. Because the author writes about architecture, I suspected that the clue to the murder would have to do with architecture. I found the solution satisfying.

Second, I enjoyed the characters and the setting, both the Twin Cities themselves and the World War I time period. The author did an excellent job of weaving in information about the labor strife of the times, the patriotism committees which sought to repress all civil rights, the growing temperance movement, and the government's control of production and pricing according to war-time guidelines.

Third, the book is well-written. The flow from scene to scene is smooth and the author is in complete control of sentences and paragraphs and point of view. This was a pleasure to read.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good book, but why keep dragging in Sherlock Holmes? Feb. 10 2013
By AcerAcer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
A man who is locked into his 30th-floor office is shot and killed -- murdered! All his windows are shut and intact. He was apparently alone at the time. There is no weapon left behind and no smell of gunpowder in the air. How could it have been done?

This is a locked room mystery, and an homage to the most famous writer of locked-room mysteries, J.D. Carr. If you like locked room mysteries, you will definitely enjoy this one. If you're a fan of locked room mysteries of the past, you will find references to them tucked into the pages of this book. Some of the less prominent characters in the book have been given the names of various detectives of locked-room mysteries. J.D. Carr himself appears in the story! So that's all fun.

I know that a lot of people really like Shadwell Rafferty, and I don't dislike him myself. But I don't understand why Larry Millett can't give up on Holmes and just write Rafferty books. It's false advertising to write a 300-plus page book with Holmes in maybe 8 pages, and call that "featuring Sherlock Holmes". If Holmes were actually in the book, sure. But not for "manuscript fragments" or as in the fourth book of the series, pages from John Waton's diaries. But I shouldn't complain, because at least Holmes's name is not actually in this title.

But Holmes's name is part of the subtitle of this book, "A Locked Room Mystery featuring Shadwell Rafferty and Sherlock Holmes," even though Holmes is in it for only one chapter, and at that, the chapter is represented to be a fragment of a manuscript by Dr. John Watson. So really, that's how long Sherlock Holmes is in this book: for a fragment of a manuscript. So it's kind of a stretch to say the book features Sherlock Holmes.

It's also kind of odd to say the book "features" Shadwell Rafferty, when it's actually all about him. If you like Shadwell Rafferty, and you chose this book because you wanted more stories about him, this book should be a very satisfactory read to you.
5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Holmes - Missing in action! May 2 2011
By marianne pernick - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Too much Rafferty, not nearly enough Holmes/Watson. Interesting historical perspective, but I wanted Rafferty AND Holmes. Not particularily interested in architecture/history of St. Paul.
3.0 out of 5 stars An ok read, but not a page turner April 25 2014
By patchbunny - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I like the Shadwell stories, but given how Sherlock Holmes was irrelevant to the story I don't know why he's included in the description, or even in the book. The plot itself felt a little weak, and the assassin character was a bit silly as his ability to always come out on top was a bit much.

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