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History Review – The Witch of Lime Street


The Witch of Lime Street: Seance Seduction and Houdini in the Spirit World 

by David Jaher

Review by Cynthia F. (frazerc)


The negatives:
The author really should have thought long and hard about his target audience. If his intent was to sell this to academics who want every tiny detail [although they prefer it annotated, footnoted, cross referenced and with a bibliography exceeding 3 pages] he did pretty good. If his intent was to sell this to the general public the book should have been half as long with only ‘facts’ shared that supported and advanced the story. The plot suffered; trying to keep track of it was kind of like trying to find vegetables in a wildly overgrown garden – hidden gems surrounded by masses of weeds and useless debris.

The positives:
It is a well told slice of history that I knew relatively little about. I knew spiritualism was big in the Victorian era but didn’t know that it had such a big resurgence in the 20s. I suppose that was due to so many people dying in both the influenza epidemic and WWI.

Both Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and Houdini were fanatics in the truest sense of the word. Both were only looking for the stuff that supported their own points of view. Negative proof would have to be fairly huge to get their attention.

The author did a good job presenting both sides, allowing the reader to make their own decisions. For the many spiritualism offers hope – and many people are willing to suspend belief to get that hope. The naysayers on the other hand don’t offer anything – just facts and science and logic that many prefer not to hear. Pretty much those who believe will continue to believe [although the specific spiritualist may be debunked they are sure the next one will be better] and those who do not will continue to believe there’s some kind of trickery involved. There will probably never be definitive proof either way – which makes it very fertile ground for the con artists among us.








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One Response to “History Review – The Witch of Lime Street”

  1. Mary Scott says:

    I’ve read that about Conan Doyle- sounds interesting!

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