What Rough Beast
During a 1903 London visit, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle attends a Houdini performance and finds himself defending Houdini from a vindictive audience member. Houdini shows his gratitude by inviting Doyle to a séance at the home of infamous occultist Maximillian Cairo, whom Houdini is preparing to expose as a charlatan. The attendees are invited back to witness a dark ritual where a dangerous entity is accidentally released. Later, when Doyle is asked to vindicate a séance participant of a heinous crime, he finds that the two events are likely related and asks Houdini to help.
Knight portrays Doyle as a man obsessed with guilt over his wife’s illness because he did not diagnose it sooner. Houdini is shown as bold and impulsive, quick to protect his friends and enamored with his wife Bess. The remainder of the characters provide the necessary evil counterparts and suspects. Greek mythology is introduced as Doyle and Houdini are stalked by a chilling supernatural being that they must eventually defeat if civil society is to remain.
Readers sensitive to disturbing imagery or offended by debauchery may find the content too intense. Bolder readers wishing to explore the potential of the friendship between Sir Conan Doyle and Houdini that never was will enjoy the thrill.