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#BookReview of The Ambitious Card by John Gaspard

  27 Apr 2021 |    4 minutes  |   Paul Mitchell

Book cover of The Ambitious Card by John Gaspard

Title:  The Ambitious Card
Author:  John Gaspard
Date Published:  21 Jul, 2019
Genre:  Mystery and Suspense
Publisher:  Albert's Bridge Books
ISBN:  B07V59T11C
Series:  Eli Marks #1
Pages:  296
Rating:  ⭐⭐⭐⭐


(Blurb for The Ambitious Card from GoodReads) The life of a magician isn’t all kiddie shows and card tricks. Sometimes it’s murder. Especially when magician Eli Marks very publicly debunks a famed psychic, and said psychic ends up dead. The evidence, including a bloody King of Diamonds playing card (one from Eli’s own Ambitious Card routine), directs the police right to Eli.

As more psychics are slain, and more King cards rise to the top, Eli can’t escape suspicion. Things get really complicated when romance blooms with a beautiful psychic, and Eli discovers she’s the next target for murder, and he’s scheduled to die with her. Now Eli must use every trick he knows to keep them both alive and reveal the true killer.

My Review

I quite liked The Ambitious Card it’s a smart whodunit from John Gaspard featuring magician Eli Marks. I mean, what’s not to like? There’s magic, murder and a bit of comedy thrown in…

Marks has been invited to a psychic show featuring Grey (aka Walter Graboski) as a ‘debunker’, although he much prefers the term sceptic. His role is to show the audience that Grey’s abilities are not real, more of an entertainment act. It’s a difficult task since he is a magician and can’t give away any of his secrets. But he manages to satisfy the audience with the help of a final trick called ‘The Ambitious Card’ where the chosen card keeps appearing even after several cuts and shuffles. With a final flourish, he uses a paper knife to trap the card, the King of Diamonds by piercing it, ending the performance.

The next day Eli is taken in for questioning by the police as Grey has been found murdered. He was stabbed through the eye along with a playing card, the King of Diamonds. This is why Eli is a suspect. Grey himself wasn’t well-liked by either his assistant or many other psychics which could be why he was killed. However, he is the first of several psychic victims and each has the same playing card near their body.

Some background to this story. Eli lives with his uncle Harry (also a magician) above their magic shop. He was brought up by Harry and his aunt Alice after his mom and dad died. He’s been there since his divorce from Dierdre (Assistant District Attorney) who’s married to Homicide Detective Fred Hutton. Eli and Harry rent the shop and their home from Megan their landlord and he’s besotted with her. Megan is currently in the process of getting a divorce from Pete who can’t seem to let go. Pete is learning magic with the help of Eli, but he’s not a great student.


I like Eli. He’s someone who you can root for, whether he’s trying to get the girl, or solving the murder. Whether he is a great detective though is up for debate since he seemed to stumble toward the conclusion. His relationship with his ex-wife and her husband is quite entertaining, and there’s obviously no love lost between the two men. In fact, it’s Fred Hutton who’s taken Eli in for questioning and seems to get some satisfaction from it.

Another great character is Uncle Harry. He has a certain charm at times but can be belligerent now and again. He’s like that with Pete and won’t sell him another trick until he’s perfected the latest one. He meets up regularly with a group of old-time magicians to reminisce in the bar near the magic shop. There’s also Franny Higgins, another wonderful character who is a telephone psychic. She literally works best when she’s on the telephone with her client. Eli finds this out to his cost when she makes him go outside her house to phone for a session.

Final Thoughts

Overall I think The Ambitious Card is a charming story. It’s got a nice plot, a great set of characters and there are some funny moments as well. I didn’t work out who the killer was, or their motive until the end. I’ll definitely be reading the next book in the series!


Tags: Eli Marks 

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