Christopher Fiend is a vaudeville magician who is on the brink of stardom. He is stopped for a tour in the tiny town of Twelfth Junction, but after Christmas, he will be traveling to Chicago where a big-time tour manager will be watching his show, and it could be his big break. In the meantime, Christopher catches the eye of Edward Smith, an accountant whose brother owns the theater. The men have a hot encounter during intermission that both men definitely enjoy.
Trouble comes along, however, when a dead body shows up during Christopher’s act. With the sheriff out of town for the holiday, the deputy shuts down the show and insists that Christopher and the other performers all stay in town until after Christmas when the sheriff can investigate. This means Christopher will never make it to his audition on time. Edward has incentive to want to get the show going again as the theater is failing financially and they really need the holiday shows to get it afloat. So Christopher and Edward decide to team up and investigate themselves, hoping they can solve the crime in time for Christopher to make to Chicago and Edward to get the theater back up and running before losing too much money. As the two dig deeper into the case, they start to fall for one another, but figuring out the killer without being targeted themselves won’t be easy.
The Magician’s Angel is a nice little mystery set amidst the vaudeville circuit and the holiday season. When the body appears, it seems clear that one of the performers is behind the murder, so the main focus of the book is finding the killer before it’s too late. Both Christopher and Edward have reason to want to move the investigation along, and so they jump in as amateur detectives, interviewing suspects and digging into motives. I did figure out at least part of what was going on pretty early in the story (but not the way it all came together), but given that this is a pretty short book, it wasn’t a problem to anticipate what was going on. The reveal ties together kind of cleverly with the larger story, and while it isn’t high suspense, there is some excitement as things come to a head. I also loved the inside look into the lives a traveling performers and this adds some nice depth to the story.
The relationship between Edward and Christopher happens far too fast for me, however. The story takes place over about two days, and while I could believe the attraction, the declarations of love were hard to accept that fast. One of the guys makes some major life changes based on a two-day connection without even talking to the other, so I just felt the relationship side was just way too fast for a falling in love, HEA ending. However, these guys are interesting characters and Hawk gives them enough back story and depth to develop them well in a short book.
The Magician’s Angel is part of the Christmas Angel collection, a set of standalone books by different authors that all tie together with a Christmas angel that gets passed along and makes an appearance in each story. The books are set in different time periods and feature different characters, so you can read them in any order. In this book, Christopher uses the angel in his holiday magic act and it is said to bring him luck.
So this one is a nice little mystery with a holiday twist. It is a relatively short book and it kept me engaged and I read it all in one sitting. If you are looking for a holiday book with a bit of a different spin, definitely check this one out.