Spirit Sleuths By Gail Jarrow

Spirit Sleuths

How Magicians and Detectives Exposed the Ghost Hoaxes


Published by (2024-09-10)

The latest from acclaimed author Gail Jarrow reveals how magicians—including Harry Houdini and his team of investigators—exposed fake mediums who exploited the vulnerable and gullible in the early twentieth century.

After millions of people died during World War I and from the 1918 influenza pandemic, the popularity of Spiritualism soared. Desperate to communicate with their dead loved ones, the bereaved fell prey to extortion by fraudulent mediums and fortune-tellers. 

But magician Harry Houdini wasn't fooled. He recognized the scammers' methods as no more than conjurer's tricks. Angered by the way people were exploited, Houdini set out to expose the ghost hoaxes. In his stage show, he revealed the fraudsters’ techniques, and he used a team of undercover investigators to collect proof of séance deceptions. His head secret agent was a young New York private detective and disguise expert, Rose Mackenberg—a woman who continued her ghost-busting career for decades, long after Houdini's death in 1926.

Ideal for young readers and adults who are drawn to the worlds of psychics and magicians, this riveting book uncovers a little-known chapter in American history and details the ways people were (and still are) deceived by mediums and fortune-tellers.

Book Details

Format: eBook
Price: 19.99 CAD / 14.99 USD
Published: 2024-09-10
ISBN: 9781662680243
Page Count: 176
Trim Size: 8 x 10

"In this thoroughly researched study, [Jarrow] singles out two investigators in particular for their persistence: Harry Houdini, who made exposures of séance fakery a regular part of his stage act, and his protégé Rose Mackenberg, a tough-minded private detective and master of disguise who worked with victims and law enforcement to shut down spirit scams for decades after Houdini’s premature death...she [offers] insights into the clever techniques used by both hoaxers and hoax-busters, as well as a timely case study on the persistence of irrational belief in the face of logic and overwhelming negative evidence...Penetrating and provocative." —Kirkus Reviews