Escape Artist by Ed Ifkovic

Escape Artist
By Ed Ifkovic
Poison Pen Press

From the publisher - In 1904 Edna Ferber is a nineteen-year-old girl reporter for the Appleton, Wisconsin “Crescent,” an occupation that many townspeople, including her own family, consider scandalous for a proper young girl. By chance, she interviews Harry Houdini, in town visiting old friends. Houdini, as Ehrich Weiss, spent his boyhood years in the small town. When Frana Lempke, a beautiful young German high-school girl, disappears and is soon discovered murdered, Edna asks Houdini for help in solving the murder. The unusual crime baffles the local police because Frana mysteriously disappeared from a locked room at the high school. Houdini, the celebrated escape artist, takes a liking to Edna and agrees to help. But as Edna pursues the story, alienating any number of people, she senses that she is being followed. It’s a troubling summer for her. Her homelike is in disorder, though she is dedicated to a blind father. Her mother and sister dislike her walking the streets as a reporter. Worse, the newsroom has become a hostile environment, with a new city editor determined to undermine her. Piecing together the clues, she comes to see that her own life in the small town is unraveling. As the future best-selling writer starts to solve the crime, she understands that her involvement will impact her life forever. In 1904 future best-selling writer Edna Ferber, then a nineteen-year-old fledgling reporter in Appleton, Wisconsin, teams up with famed escape artist Harry Houdini to solve the baffling murder of a beautiful young girl who has mysteriously disappeared from a locked room at the local high school.

Holy handcuffs Houdini!  Grab a glass of sarsaparilla  down at the corner soda fountain and dive right into Escape Artist! What's not to like about this premise?!  Houdini in small town America...Appleton Wisconsin to be exact, and that's where we find the young, and struggling girl reporter Edna Ferber. Who knew back in 1904 where these two people would go in the "real" world?

Escape Artist is just plain old fashioned fun. I hated to see the mystery solved and the book end. Author Ed Ifkovic really captures the joys and the frustrations of small town, turn of the "other" century America.  Ifkovic places young Frana Lempke in the proverbial  locked room and yet, she disappeared. Not only did she disappear, Appleton's wanna-be reporter, well sleuth in this case, Edna Ferber, finds the body.

I won't detail much more of the plot, as I think that's a disservice to review readers. Ferber and Houdini are well fleshed out people in a fictional scenario that's brilliantly plotted and executed by Ifkovic. The author places Edna in an unhappy home, her family life is at best miserable. A cold mother and a diva sister do nothing but frame the good parts of that family.  The shining thread in this Ferber family is the sweet and yet complex relationship that Edna and her failing father, Jacob share.  These two souls tug at your heart and make you wish everything could be better for them both. That's what really stood out for me in this book, the loving relationship that Ifkovic gave us in this father-daughter relationship.

When I clicked the last page of this e-galley, I wanted more. I hope the author plans to give us another chapter from the life of Edna Ferber, reporter extraordinaire!

I give this book 4 out of 5 stars just for the real fun of the read!!

This  e-galley  was provided to me by the publisher via NetGalley and in no way affected my review.


  1. I found myself seeing my world through the eyes of Edna. This is an excellent book but it is a woman's book. It is women, not men, who most often find themselves locked into a small world because their fears keep them from attempting to go beyond what is most familiar and most comfortable. Many readers will overlook the importance of the gift Houdini tries to give Edna. Edna has the key to get out of her locked room, but she is the only one that can decide to risk opening the door and she must first realize that the room is locked. I hope many women will read this book. Don't think it is just another mystery. It's about facing one's own fears and allowing oneself to explore other worlds and other options.
    I rate this book a 10 on a 1-5 scale. Read it and apply the key Houdini reveals.

  2. Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts about Edna and "The Escape Artist"! I loved her too and really hope that there's another Edna Ferber book!!


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