I received ‘The Elsinore Vanish’ by Joanna Baker in an exchange of an honest review.
‘The Elsinore Vanish’ is the second book in the ‘The Beechworth Trilogy. Sadly, I had not read the first book, ‘Devastation Road’ but it doesn’t hinder reading this second book. The only difference, I guess is that Matt and Chess, the two protagonists are already established as young detectives in the first book.
The story is about two young detectives – Mathew Tingle and Jessica Febey who pair up as Matt and Chess as they are out to investigate the murder of Tim Williams, the little red-haired magician.
‘The thing about magic is, you get to see something impossible.’
The prologue begins with the scene of magician Tim Williams on the stage showing the vanishing act to the audiences. He had died in front of the audiences and for the last ten months, police are unable to nab the culprit. Many in this country town of Beechworth believe it to be a case of suicide.
Tim Williams died of poisoning, with potassium cyanide. The police got nowhere with the case, no is charged and the newspapers called it the failure of the justice system. The two young detectives who are riding high after the success of solving the murder mystery at Yackandandah enter the scene to investigate the case.
Chess is socially awkward who loves to solve problems and thinks logic has the answer to everything. Matt is a keen observer of human behaviour and was initially reluctant to partner with Chess to solve this murder mystery. Tim had been Matt and Chess’s two years senior in school who had just finished year twelve so there seems an obligation on the duo to solve this mystery surrounding Tim’s death.
As Matt and Chess set out on their investigations, their first suspect is Jacob Langton. Jacob was Tim’s friend and visited his home frequently. Jacob is also suspected of Tim’s murder by a majority of the town’s people. Matt and Chess visit Jacob’s home and begin interviewing his family members. They unearth the poison was locked in a cupboard two kilometres away when Tim died.
A background on Tim uncovers he had a rather difficult time coping with his parents’ separation, his mother’s new boyfriend, and then pressures at the school. Tim was a confused, lost young man. He had turned to petty crimes and earned quite a bad reputation by stalking on people’s secrets. As for the potassium cyanide, Tim had collected various poisons to represent the corrupt society of for an art project in School. Tim had received potassium cyanide just a night before his murder.
The young detectives manage to get a key with a leather tag with a word burnt to it, ‘Elsinore’. This isn’t much of a clue, except a reference to Hamlet.
The final round-up of the suspects leave us with Jacob, his Mum and Dad, and Grandpa then Tim’s Mum and her boyfriend Calvin. Also, there was Anna, Jacob’s sister, and her friend present at the time of the performance at the show. The surprise package in the story is the character named Paz, the thirteen-year son of Calvin, a budding young magician who befriended Tim.
Paz is seemingly more mature than he looks and also enters the list of suspects. The Elsinore Vanish is a magic trick that Tim and Paz performed together. For Paz, ‘Magic is about the impossible. That’s what makes it beautiful’.
It quickly gets messy as it seems everybody is lying to the two detectives. And, Matt and Chess are followed around the town by a van.
‘The Elsinore Vanish’ is a well-crafted murder mystery for young adults. The element of magic with the exuberance of the two young detectives, at time clumsy and naïve but resolute on finding the culprit behind Tim’s murder, is a joy to read.
You can order your copy of ‘The Elsinore Vanish’ from Amazon In
About the Author
Joanna Baker was educated at The Friends’ School, Hobart, the Australian National University and RMIT, Melbourne. She lives in Hobart, and still spends much of her time in the wine and high county of north eastern Victoria.
Joanna Baker was educated at The Friends’ School, Hobart, the Australian National University, and RMIT Melbourne. She writes murder mysteries set in the two places she loves: Tasmania and the wine and high country of North Eastern Victoria. She also writes online about murder mysteries, why they are so enduring, and why they are not trivial.