Death and the Conjuror

In 1930s London, celebrity psychiatrist Anselm Rees is discovered dead in his locked study, and there seems to be no way that a killer could have escaped unseen. There are no clues, no witnesses, and no evidence of the murder weapon. Stumped by the confounding scene, the Scotland Yard detective on the case calls on retired stage magician-turned-part-time sleuth Joseph Spector. For who better to make sense of the impossible than one who traffics in illusions?

Selected as one of Publishers Weekly’s Best Mysteries of the Year

Praise for Death and the Conjuror:

“An intricate, elegantly written ‘impossible’ crime that completely fooled me. Tom Mead is already a master of the art of misdirection.”

–Peter Lovesey, international bestseller, CWA Diamond Dagger Award winner and MWA Grandmaster

“A real treat for mystery fans”

–Ragnar Jonasson, bestselling author of the Dark Iceland series

Death and the Conjuror is an engrossing tale of murder and magicians, and a revealing exploration of the ever-popular locked-room mystery. Mead’s debut is a novel to intrigue and delight.”   

–John Connolly, New York Times bestseller of The Nameless Ones and 18 additional titles in the Charlie Parker series.

“A tour de force Golden Age murder mystery. It sparkles with brilliant clues, has an amazing detective (who’s going to buy the TV rights?), and a proper fair play denouement with a brilliant reveal at the end. LOVED IT.”

–Robert Thorogood, creator of TV’s Death in Paradise

“An enthralling take on the classic locked room mystery. Highly enjoyable.”

–Kate Ellis, author of the bestselling Wesley Peterson mysteries

“Sparkling, exhilarating. The narrative is stuffed with provocative ideas and good humour. Tom Mead is a dazzling new talent.”

–TP Fielden, author of the Miss Dimont and Guy Harford mysteries

“A wonderful gift from a British up-and-coming author who adores the Golden Age of classic mysteries. I thoroughly enjoyed a very delightful and elegant time.”

–Yukito Ayatsuji, author of The Decagon House Murders

“Locked room mysteries are back in fashion and in Death and the Conjuror, Tom Mead gives us one to savour. With fluid prose, sharply defined characters, and an ingenious set of puzzles, this is a book that references the Golden Age of crime fiction in the best possible way.”

–Vaseem Khan, CWA Historical Dagger winner

“Death and the Conjuror is a truly splendid piece of work […] The world of Spector will creep out to embrace you and draw you in. For those who love a mystery, this will more than satisfy the sharpest appetite.  A murderous, mysterious masque, a true delight for those who wish to enter and cross the Meadows of Murder.”

–Paul Doherty, author of over 100 historical mysteries including The Nightingale Gallery and The Mask of Ra

“Both a splendid homage to the Golden age of impossible crimes and its great exponent John Dickson Carr and a witty reconstruction of the classic locked room mystery with tongue in cheek bravado and a gallery of attendant, endearing characters, Tom Mead’s debut is a sheer delight.”

–Maxim Jakubowski, author, editor and CWA chairman

“An ingenious locked room mystery. This is a fiendishly clever puzzle wrapped in a beautiful, dark atmospheric story. Utterly captivating!”

–Victoria Dowd, author of The Smart Woman’s Guide to Murder

“With real-life contemporary crime nastily dumbing-down, readers looking for a new Golden Age will find the ingenious Tom Mead repolishing the gold.”

–Phil Rickman, author of Midwinter of the Spirit

“This clever mystery combines a delightful homage to Golden Age detective fiction with a highly entertaining impossible crime puzzle – what more could any fan of classic crime wish for?”

–Martin Edwards, Crime novelist and winner of the CWA Diamond Dagger 2020

“Perfect for all lovers of classic crime fiction. Tom Mead has conjured up a memorable protagonist and a devilishly cunning plot.”

–L.C. Tyler, multi award-winning author of the Elsie and Ethelred mysteries

“A tale as rich in illusions and tricks as the conjuror at its heart.”

–Mike Hollow, author of the Blitz Detective series

“With a deviously intricate locked-room plot, Death and the Conjuror unfolds as both an elegant tribute and a cunning update of the classic ‘impossible crime’ story. Somewhere, the great John Dickson Carr is smiling.” 

–Daniel Stashower, two-time Edgar-winner and author of the Harry Houdini mysteries

“An absolute delight. The Golden Age of detective fiction comes brilliantly alive. Great characters, wonderful locked-room puzzles, it kept me hooked.”

–Jim Eldridge, author of the Museum Mystery series

“Tom Mead has created an intriguing set of puzzles on par with John Dickson Carr in Death and the Conjuror.  A true delight for mystery lovers!”

-Charles Todd, New York Times bestseller of A Game of Fear and 23 additional titles in the Inspector Rutledge series

“This ingenious (and fair-play) locked-room mystery should win over a new generation of readers to this delightfully devious style of classic mystery.”

–Gigi Pandian, Agatha Award-winning author

“One of the best locked-room mysteries I’ve read. I was both baffled and enthralled by every twist and am now a firm Spector enthusiast! A true golden age gem, right up there with the greats!”

–T.A. Willberg, author of Marion Lane and the Midnight Murder

“Magic! This tautly-plotted debut is a ‘must read’ for fans of locked room mysteries.”

–M.H. Eccleston, author of The Trust

“An exuberant, playful, highly enjoyable novel.”

–Andrew Martin, CWA Historical Dagger Winner

“More red herrings than a North Sea trawler, suspects galore, a dearth of clues, a locked room, and no weapon. A classic ‘who?’ and ‘how?'”

–Adrian Magson, author of the Inspector Lucas Rocco series

“A top of the range, good, old fashioned whodunnit. Great fun – and very clever! I enjoyed it enormously.”

–Daisy Waugh, author of In the Crypt with the Candlestick

“This charming locked-room mystery will keep you guessing to the last page, and in Joseph Spector, magician-turned-sleuth, Tom Mead has created an engaging and complex protagonist. A fascinating séance, summoning up the true spirit of Golden Age detective fiction.”

 –Marian Womack, author of The Golden Key

“A most entertaining piece of whimsy. Not only does the author play fair in term of clues, but he supplies us with a cast of gloriously neurotic characters with a full set of outrageous motives.”

–Rebecca Tope, author of the Cotswolds Mysteries

“Witty, intriguing and tightly plotted. I loved it.”

–Sarah Ward, author of the DC Childs series, and the gothic novels The Quickening and The Shadowing (as Rhiannon Ward)

“A deeply satisfying crime story written by a brilliantly inventive and imaginative new voice on the crime circuit.”

–Michael Jecks, author of the Knights Templar mysteries

Reviews of Death and the Conjuror:

“[A] loving tribute to the locked-room master John Dickson Carr and a sharply drawn period piece.”

New York Times, July 8th 2022

“An affectionate tribute to the golden age of impossible murder mysteries […] This ingenious debut is also great fun.”

The Times, February 4th 2023

“Pure escapism and an excellent puzzle”

The Times, February 11th 2023 (AUDIOBOOK OF THE WEEK)

“Secrets, red herrings and sleights of hand abound in an ingenious piece of intriguing escapism.”

The Guardian, February 18th 2023

“Set in London, Mead’s stellar debut and series launch, an homage to golden age crime fiction, in particular the works of John Dickson Carr, introduces magician Joseph Spector. […] Mead maintains suspense throughout, creating a creepy atmosphere en route to satisfying reveals. Puzzle mystery fans will eagerly await the sequel.”

Publishers Weekly, April 2022 (**STARRED REVIEW**)

“This debut, a tribute to John Dickson Carr and other Golden Age masters of the locked-room mystery, will appeal to nostalgia buffs and fans of the classics.”

Library Journal, April 2022 (**STARRED REVIEW**, Debut of the Month)

“Mead’s debut novel is a valentine to the locked-room puzzles of John Dickson Carr, to whom it is dedicated […] Mead faithfully replicates all the loving artifice and teasing engagement of golden-age puzzlers in this superior pastiche.”

Kirkus Reviews, April 2022

“The clever and complicated plots the unknown antagonist concocts will likely keep you guessing all the way through.”

Crime Fiction Lover

“Fans of Golden Age historical fiction will enjoy this new spin on a traditional pairing for professional policeman and amateur sleuth… All the elements you would expect are here, and the book is pleasingly referential.”

Historical Novel Society

“Not just a worthy imitation of the Golden Age puzzlers, but also a gently tongue in cheek rejuvenation of a type of mystery novel that is both cosy and challenging.”

Crime Time

“There are some very fine descriptive images, a good pace, lots of variety and a skilful reveal. This is a most encouraging debut.”

The Critic

“This is how you write books set in the Golden Age – other homage and pastiche authors should take note. This is a magnificent book and deserves the widest audience possible.”

In Search of the Classic Mystery Novel, June 2022

“[Death and the Conjuror] is a delightful read and one I really enjoyed. […] Highly recommended.”

5 Minutes for Books, June 2022

“You would definitely need a sharper mind than mine if you hope to solve this mystery before the main characters do, but that didn’t stop me avidly devouring the book and wanting more of Joseph Spector and his impossible investigations.”

Bookshine and Readbows, July 2022

***** “I am truly amazed by this wonderful masterpiece […] I can’t wait to see what happens next with Joseph Spector.”

Nana’s Book Reviews, July 2022

***** “I am so hoping this is the beginning of a long and prolific series involving these characters.” 

I Read What You Write, July 2022

***** “It’s a page turner I couldn’t put down and loved. I hope to read other stories featuring Spector and Flint. Highly recommended.”

Anna Maria Giacomasso, July 2022

“Fans of Agatha Christie and John Dickson Carr will be positively delighted to dive into Tom Mead’s debut novel! Death and the Conjuror is a classic Golden Age locked room whodunnit with a cocktail of eccentric characters and delicious twists and turns. The fact that the author opens the story behind the scenes of a production called Miss Death and then structures the pace of the novel to parallel the acts of a play is just another example of the attention to detail that makes this book so unique. The clues are all there for you to find, dear reader, but can you find them? And if you do indeed find them, can you connect the dots before the Conjuror does? I myself was not successful but I had a blast trying – and I think you will too!”

Reading Is My Superpower, July 2022

“Best of all for me is Joseph Spector himself, a detective I can easily see commanding a long series of written exploits. […] Spector now carries off a full-length adventure with aplomb and wit. Tom Mead is a welcome addition to the ranks of modern authors embracing the classic style […] and I look forward with anticipation to Spector’s next case.”

Ah Sweet Mystery!, July 2022