The Murder Wheel

Illusionist turned sleuth Joseph Spector investigates a sinister conundrum at a 1930s theatre in this thrilling new mystery novel from Tom Mead, author of Death and the Conjuror, one of Publishers Weekly‘s Mysteries of the Year 2022.

In London, 1938, young and idealistic lawyer Edmund Ibbs is trying to find any shred of evidence that his client Carla Dean wasn’t the one who shot her husband dead at the top of a Ferris Wheel. But the deeper he digs, the more complex the case becomes, and Edmund soon finds himself drawn into a nightmarish web of conspiracy and murder. Before long he himself is implicated in not one but two seemingly impossible crimes.

First, a corpse appears out of thin air during a performance by famed illusionist “Professor Paolini” in front of a packed auditorium at the Pomegranate Theatre. Then a second victim is shot dead in a locked dressing room along one of the theatre’s winding backstage corridors. Edmund is in exactly the wrong place at the wrong time, and attracts the suspicion of Scotland Yard inspector George Flint. Luckily, conjuror-turned-detective Joseph Spector is on the scene. Only Spector’s uniquely logical perspective can pierce the veil of deceit in a world of illusion and misdirection, where seeing is not always believing.

Praise for The Murder Wheel:

“Magnificent! An absolute masterclass in the locked room mystery. Beautifully written with fabulous characters. I love this series. More please!”

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

“In his captivating second novel Tom Mead establishes himself as the current master of the locked-room mystery, and The Murder Wheel doesn’t give us merely one example of this honored tradition to solve, but three of them…three interlocking “impossible” murders, each with plenty of twists and skillful misdirection. The characters are charming, the plot moves briskly along, and in the end, the brilliant ‘Old Conjuror,’ Joseph Spector, puts it all together and comes up with the goods. A winner!”

–Aaron Elkins, Edgar Award-winning author of the Gideon Oliver series

The Murder Wheel was a delight from enigmatic start to clever finish. Tom Mead’s expert, house-of-mirrors plot joyfully confounds the reader page after page. It is a real treat of perplexities and conundrums for mystery lovers everywhere.”

–Earlene Fowler, Agatha Award-winning author

“A clever writer with a mastery of setting, plotting, and the world of the illusionist, Tom Mead takes the reader on a delightful ride. Ibbs is a deliberate man—the perfect narrator for a story of murder committed very deliberately. I was pulled deep into the puzzle and held there to the very end. Kudos, Mr.  Mead. Mystery readers will love this dazzling, page-turning tale.”

–Carolyn Haines, USA TODAY bestselling author of the Sarah Booth Delaney mystery series and other books.

“The Murder Wheel is a wildly entertaining mystery brimming over with knotty puzzles, sleight of hand, wit and intelligence. It confirms Tom Mead’s status as a master of the locked-room mystery, and secures Joseph Spector as one of my favourite fictional detectives.”

–Tim Major, author of the “New Adventures of Sherlock Holmes” novels

“Tom Mead has quickly become one of my must-read authors, writing some of the most ingenious and entertaining locked-room mysteries being published today.”

–Gigi Pandian, Anthony and Agatha Award-winning author

“What an absolute treasure! Tom Mead writes with the sophisticated and knowing voice of another era, with a skilled sleight of hand, and with deep knowledge of psychology, magic, and human nature. The Murder Wheel is an engaging, perplexing, and irresistible riff on locked room mysteries—you’ve never seen a series of crimes as delightfully complex, or as brilliantly crafted. You will not be able to put this down, and what’s more, you will never be able to solve all the puzzles within puzzles. But you will stand and applaud, as I did, at the marvelously fair solutions. I promise you’ll be given all the clues, dear murder mystery readers, but, trust me: give up trying to identify whodunnit, and simply enjoy the journey to an elegant and satisfying conclusion, where the impossible becomes—presto!–possible.”

–Hank Phillippi Ryan, USA Today bestselling novelist, five-time Agatha Award-winner and Mary Higgins Clark Award-winner

“The master of mystery strikes again! An elaborate, razor-sharp and perfectly plotted thrill ride.”

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

“A delicious locked room feast of impossibilities set in the golden age of theatre and murder mysteries. I love the Mephistophelean Joseph Spector!”

–Ovidia Yu, CWA Dagger-nominated author of the History Tree Mysteries

Reviews of The Murder Wheel:

“Mead’s brilliant second Joseph Spector novel […] sees the retired magician saddled with three seemingly impossible murders to solve […] Mead plays scrupulously fair with his readers […] Lovers of John Dickson Carr’s puzzle mysteries will hope Mead has many more Spector tales up his sleeve.”

Publishers Weekly **STARRED REVIEW**

“A triple-barrelled puzzle […] Even readers who live to match wits with canny authors and detectives are likely to be outwitted by this one.”

Kirkus Review