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The Ambitious Card

(An Eli Marks Mystery #1)

4.11  ·  Rating details ·  394 ratings  ·  85 reviews
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 c
Paperback, 288 pages
Published August 20th 2013 by Henery Press (first published August 15th 2013)
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Average rating 4.11  · 
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 ·  394 ratings  ·  85 reviews

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Blaine DeSantis
Dec 08, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
What a fun new series I just began. An interesting first book that introduces the characters as well as introducing us to the Twin Cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul, and an interesting plot that kept me guessing until the end. I was sure I had solved the mystery about 100 pages from the end of he book - WRONG! Some may have solved it early but I really think the author did a fine job is disguising the real murdered and using card trick magic names as part of the solution. Someone us killing the ...more
Feb 08, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
(Disclaimer: I was given a free copy by the author in exchange for an honest review)

It took me much of the book before I warmed to the main character, Eli. Frankly, he came across as kind of boring; the other characters were carrying the story, along with the very good narration. About 2/3 of the way through, his gloomy magician friend Nathan (who'll always find the cloud in a silver lining) gets Eli to sub for him at a birthday party gig, which at first seems like it'd be a disaster, but Eli co
Crazy for Books (Stephanie)
5 Crazy Funny Stars

For some reason it took me a minute to get use the voice of the reader, but once I did, I fell right into the book. FREAKING HILARIOUS!!!!!

There were moments I was laughing so hard I was crying. Then I'd have to pause it so I wouldn't miss anything. I was also listening while I went for my walk (exercise) and had to explain to people passing me by that I was listening to an audiobook and not a crazy person cracking up at nothing.

I'm an avid TV watcher, and this reminded me of
SA Krishnan
Jul 20, 2020 rated it really liked it
Original story
The mystery was original, fresh and thoroughly enjoyable. A stage magician comes to know that a serial killer is killing psychics. He goes on to investigate the matter.
The story is told very well and the characters are very well etched. Kept the mystery very interesting till the very end.
Nola Arganbright
Nov 27, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: cozy-mysteries

A very entertaining and exciting mystery. The characters are strong and believable. A strong plot and a huge amount of dry humor made this a great read!
Sep 04, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: cozy-mystery
I didn't have high expectations for this book, a 99 cent Kindle offer. I was very pleasantly surprised.

Eli is a professional magician, also considered by some to be a "debunker", especially of psychics, (but he prefers the term Skeptic). Eli and his uncle own a magic shop, and there are some demonstrations of magic tricks, they don't overwhelm the mystery. It's a well-written story with good characters and some humorous moments. I will be looking for more in the series.
Dec 05, 2017 rated it liked it
Quite a clever mystery! I love how the main character was a magician--it was refreshing to read a character with new expertise. And the mystery/murder plot was tied to psychic's and magician's tricks.

The murderer was pretty sneaky too--I only figured it out in the last half of the book. Everything tied together in a satisfying way at the end. The questions raised were answered.

This book is set in the Twin Cities, which is in my home state, so that was cool too. I'm not super familiar with Minnea
Kent Holloway
Jan 25, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
In a world where cozies seem to be flooded with estrogen, cats, and caterers, Eli Marks’ first mystery is a breath of fresh air for the guy who loves whodunnits. Although there are a few ‘F’ bombs scattered here and there (not many), I still consider this book to be very much a cozy with a fun and unique amateur sleuth in the form of a professional magician.

The writing and editing were strong. The mystery was quite enjoyable, with enough clues to allow the reader to solve it (which to me is a m
Emma Goldman
Feb 08, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Entertaining and rather out of the ordinary in its setting. Professional magician, sceptical of the paranormal, is suspected of murdering a psychic., and the detective in the case is his ex wife's new husband. ...more
Feb 12, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Enormously enjoyable. Fast moving and really funny. Looking forward to more.
Joanne Ernest
The Ambitious Card by John Gaspard

This is the first of the Eli Marks mysteries. He has recently returned to the home of his Uncle Harry, where he spent much of his childhood after hus parents died. Eli is a magician, as is his uncle, who recently divorced his wife. Uncle Harry, even more recently, lost his wife to illness.Together Eli and Harry run Chicago Magic, a store that sells tricks over the counter and online. Both of them also do magic shows when the chance comes along. Uncle Harry is st
Nov 26, 2014 rated it it was amazing
The Ambitious Card is an old fashioned hard boiled detective mystery, although in this case the detective is an amateur and the setting is contemporary Minneapolis but the style and spirit are the same.
Eli Marks is a professional magician who lives with his beloved Uncle Harry, a magician and owner of a magic shop. Eli is invited to"debunk" a psychic on live TV on Halloween. The next day the psychic is found murdered and Eli finds himself in the uncomfortable position of prime suspect. This is d
Jul 02, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Funny, fresh, interesting mystery novel

In this new, original mystery novel, a stage magician and skeptic, is launched into an investigation where someone is going around killing psychics, leaving a playing card at each of the crime scene. the twist is that instead of consulting on the case to help the police find the killer. He's an amateur detective investigating and trying to set up trouble, and is on of the radar of homicide detective Fred Hutton, who happens to be married to his ex-wife. The
Mar 04, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is an amateur sleuth mystery featuring a magician. He is suspected of murder, so he takes it upon himself to try to solve the crime.

This fits into a tradition stretching back decades. There’s nothing overly literary or groundbreaking, and it doesn’t seem to be trying to fit into any trendy sub genres. The writing and plotting are done well enough to enjoy.

The things I didn’t like are, unfortunately, not uncommon. The reason he’s a suspect involves people who have a conflict of interest, bu
Aug 17, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Good first entry into a series. The character is different, at least not too many magician/sleuth protagonists, but that's what I liked. It reminded me of a Dick Francis novel in that the main character has some unusual job and I always learn something about that job.
Eli Marks is thrust into the position of detective when he ends up as the prime suspect in a murder.. make that murders. In the first outing the victims are all psychics. And no, they didn't see it coming. He makes some mistakes th
Nov 03, 2017 rated it it was ok
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Oct 27, 2019 rated it liked it
An easy read. Probably a 3.5.
It didn't grab me, but I enjoyed it. I got the right killer but for all the wrong reasons.

Eli is a magician who hangs out with his uncle (another magician) and he enjoys showing up frauds who pose as psychics After showing one up on live tv, the psychic is murdered with one of the cards Eli used to debunk the guy on the body. Then another psychic is murdered, and a 3rd. And since all have the same playing card with their body, the police think Eli is responsible. He
Sep 27, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Eli has been invited to 'debunk' a performance by GRAY a self proclaimed psychic (who used to sell real estate) in a live television broadcast. Well any way Eli does his 'thing' without committing the 'greatest sin of magicians' which means he doesn't reveal how the trick is done. Than he really ticks the guy off by doing a little card trick of his own-The Ambitious Card. That card kept showing up everywhere- murder after murder after murder. Eli is becoming a little frantic since the police are ...more
Mary Longo
Oct 29, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Just a great fun read

This was such fun to read. Between the murder mystery, the magic and greatly fleshed out characters I was hooked from page one.
Has anyone else ever fallen for a fictional character? I'm completely enamoured with Eli Marks the protagonist of the story I can't wait to read the rest of the series. I wanted to try to slow down reading because I didn't want it to end. Lucky for me there's more stories. Normally don't like to get into series because they get old and repetitive. I
Ken Finlay
Dec 15, 2020 rated it really liked it
Psychics are being murdered in the Twin Cities and the evidence is pointing toward Eli Marks, magician and psychic sceptic.
There are some genuinely good one-liners, after being bombarded by many bats Eli notes that they were probably more scared of humans than vice versa -"I'm the Switzerland of bats and bat guano."
It is extremely well written and the plotting is spot on! Eli is a believable character with a smart mouth and the people he meets with run the gamut from patsy to red herring!
It's al
Evelyn Grabas
Oct 18, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Fantastic read. Don't know when I have enjoyed reading a mystery this much. The humor contained in the story really enhances the happenings and puts zip into it, making the story outstanding.

And, Dierdre, the Asst DA must have lost her mind when she picked the Homicide Detective over Eli. Unless, of course, he is a superior lover, cause other than that is a dumb, bumbling idiot. But, who knows, perhaps she thinks that being married to a magician is beneath er position as Asst DA.

In any case, I,
Feb 26, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Wow. Pardon me while I gush, but it's been a while since I picked up a mystery this good and I'm kinda geeky that way. This is an exceptional story with an excellent mystery, awesome and quirky characters, interesting locations, and a thrilling plot. Plus, loads of humor. I actually did laugh out loud in a couple places. Also, I loved the insights into psychics and magicians, too. So much fun! I'm so glad I took a chance on this new-to-me author. I'm definitely looking forward to more of this se ...more
Nov 26, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Magic Leads to Murder

Magician Eli Marks takes on psychic Grey in front of a live audience and shreds his act to pieces. That night Grey is found dead, stabbed in the eye with the King of Diamonds card attached to the letter opener. Suddenly Eli becomes a suspect. When other deaths occur, Eli is at the top of the police list. He decides to investigate for himself. Quirky, funny mystery
Erik Sapp
Mar 18, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery
I read the sample, the decided to go ahead and buy the book, rather than put it in my Wish List (which I normally do). I'm rather glad I did. There is nothing deep or intense about this book. What it is is a quick, cute, entertaining read. I spent most of the book thinking I knew who the killer was, only to find that I was completely wrong.

I would have liked more about Eli's relationship with his uncle, but that may come in later books. For now, I'm content.
Karen J Shields
Jul 21, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Another author who makes my favorites list

I read this book in one sitting and then hoped there were more to follow. Loved the quirky characters,especially Eli and Uncle Harry. The writing is really good and the editing is impeccable. Cut my mystery teeth on Agatha Christie in grade school when was a current author. I recommend this book to my mystery loving friends and family members. The magic is a bonus.
Lesley Hewitt
Oct 07, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A lovely murder mystery

A really good book, I couldn't put it down. Eli and his Uncle Harry own a magic tricks shop. Eli and Harry debunk psychics and mediums, Eli goes on a tv show and shows the audience how Grey a medium and mentalist did his act. A little while later people are killed and Eli's magic card trick is what the victims all have in common. There is a twist at the end. I do like these books a lot.
Aug 27, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book is a unique murder mystery set in the world of magicians and psychics. The murder storyline was enjoyable, and the characters were well developed. The conclusion was exciting, although I overlooked the error about carbon monoxide.

Caves under Minneapolis? I never knew of such a thing. Very interesting.
Sep 07, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
As easy to read as it was engrossing

Once I started reading "The Ambitious Card" I was hooked. The story flows easily through the plots and subplots making it a delightful read. The characters are well thought out and the events of the plot move easily from one to the other. I look forward to enjoying more in this series.
Jan 28, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It's a Real Page Turner

This story has delightful characters, crisp dialogue, and a wonderfully twisted plot. It has the right combination of suspense and humor, danger and whimsy. There's also a perfect balance between legerdemain and parapsychology. The only reason I didn't give this book five stars is the grammatical errors. It needs a good copy editor.
McKenzie Rae
Feb 22, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Being a resident of Minnesota myself, I love it when I find books that are set in this state! The Ambitious Card was fun and charming, with great, relatable characters. John Gaspard was super nice when I met him at the book fair, and the book I bought from his table certainly did not disappoint.
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The Mystery, Crim...: Interview with John Gaspard and book giveaway contest 3 7 Nov 21, 2013 02:53PM  

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In real life, John’s not a magician, but he has directed six low-budget features that cost very little and made even less – that’s no small trick. He's also written multiple books on the subject of low-budget filmmaking. Ironically, they’ve made more than the films.

His blog, "Fast, Cheap Movie Thoughts,” (http://fastcheapmoviethoughts.blogspo...) has been named "One of the 50 Best Blogs for Moviem

Other books in the series

An Eli Marks Mystery (6 books)
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  • The Miser's Dream  (An Eli Marks Mystery #3)
  • The Linking Rings (An Eli Marks Mystery #4)
  • The Floating Light Bulb (An Eli Marks Mystery #5)
  • The Zombie Ball (An Eli Marks Mystery #6)

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