Here’s an unsolicited and unedited review from a gentleman named Bryce Kuhlman:
My first, and still one of my favorite, magic books is published by Dover: The Secrets of Alkazar. It was one of the few magic books on the shelves of my elementary school library, but it was also the best book I could have found at that time.
What made this book different is that it was centered around the performance of magic, not just learning how the tricks work. Instead of chapters on “rope magic” and “card magic,” it talked about “Misdirection,” “Presentation” and “Naturalness.”
Close-Up Magic Secrets is written with the same goal in mind, but with three distinct differences:
It’s written for adults (not that kids wouldn’t enjoy it)
It contains professional quality material, from a working pro
There’s a much wider spectrum of difficulty and complexity in the routines
Now that I’ve read this book, it will forever be my recommendation to people who are coming back to magic (or just getting started) as adults. It focuses on the important aspects of story and performance, provides plenty of routines that are relatively simple on a mechanical level and yet allows for growth as a reader’s skill increases.
In fact, Diamond Jim Tyler has taken some of the classic effects of magic and given them presentational frameworks that make them more interesting to a non-magician audience. He also provides extensive crediting and history so that the reader can delve deeper into any of the routines (and magic, in general).
I think my only wish for the book is that some of the routines would have come with full scripts. There are lines here and there, and the premise of each story is clear, but I know from experience that many magicians have problems with scripting. Sometimes just having a couple of really good examples can make all the difference when starting to craft your own.
Just to give you a sense of the breadth of material, here are some of the routines you’ll find:
New Age Spellbound — a classic effect, with classic moves and some you’ve probably never heard of… done with crystals instead of coins.
Baseball Diamond — A mentalism routine with baseball cards that ends up with the production of a full-sized baseball from the card box.
The FBI Trick — a hysterical thumb cuff routine with the option to add some “adult themes” for the right audience.
Cat and Mouse — A card is “found” using a mousetrap!
Burning Impression — The image of a selected card ends up burned into your business card (a great souvenir and marketing tactic).
Overall there are 29 routines. Some are just simple gags, others are full, professional routines. You’ll find card tricks, coin tricks, mentalism, comedy, levitation, escapes, bizarre magic and effects with everyday objects.
The last 30 pages of the book are devoted to a Glossary that not only covers terminology, but also teaches many of the standard moves any magician should know (switches, forces, palms, etc.).
Quite honestly, I’d choose this book, even for myself, over the hundreds of “insider” books that you would only find in a magic shop. In fact, there are three routines in the book that I’m already working on adding to my repertoire!