Vanishing Magic have been putting out some stonking (note for non UK-readers that means excellent!) books in recent years, and Secrets of a Puerto Rican Gambler is no exception. Except that it is. Since rather than a new release it is technically a beautiful hard-back re-release of a paperback from 1980 which is now rather difficult to get hold of.

And I would suggest that if you have any interest in card or close up magic at all and you haven’t seen it then you really need to. It is excellent. It covers the immaculate card magic (and one coin item) of Daryl. There is a reason he is known as “the magician’s magician.” Each routine is beautifully constructed and his attention to detail is extraordinary – more on that later.

Stephen Minch is a great writer – the style is slightly tongue in cheek which makes it a joy to read, without getting in the way of the clarity of the explanations. It has been lavishly illustrated (243 photographic illustrations in a 171-page book!) with some extra photos in this re-release than in the original. The cover design is in colour and is suitably nostalgia-invoking.

The routines

daryl secrets of a puerto rican gambler stephen minch reviewThese are largely Daryl’s takes on classic card routines. A Boomerang Card (a card spun out is caught in the deck sandwiched between 2 earlier choices) then two variations on that theme. His take on Elmsley’s ‘Between your palms’ – a signed card lost in the pack turns out to be the card another spectator has been holding between their hands since the outset, and in a final kicker 3 ‘wrong guesses’ turn out to be the mates of the signed card.

There’s a Triumph routine with a very convincing display sequence, a mid-air card-stab using two packets of cards, a Four Ace Assembly (that doesn’t use 4 aces!), and a twist on Vernon’s classic Twisting the Aces – with a final climax where the fourth ace appears face up in the tabled deck.

The coin routine is a lovely “Passage of Silver”/travelling coin routine where 4 coins invisibly travel from one hand to join 4 in the other. And there is an extra routine in this new edition – Double Dazzling Triumph – where a triumph routine appears to go wrong – but the two face up cards turn out to indicate the location of two selections, and there’s an added kicker where the deck is separated into red and black at the end.

The level

This is definitely an intermediate to advanced level book. All the sleights are explained in the book, but standard sleights only briefly. I would the book assumes at least some basic knowledge of card magic, though full references are given to chase up the details.

Even if you already perform versions of these effects there is much to learn from the Puerto Rican Gambler’s careful construction of the routines and wonderful performance tips. In many instances he provides variations for individual elements of the routines to fit different performing scenarios – everything has been both carefully thought out and carries the feel of being well road-tested in the real world.

We think this is a super book – and it rather makes me want to look up the other recent Daryl re-release – For your entertainment pleasure. if you’re still wavering – it comes with a conditional guarantee:

The contents of this volume are fully and conditionally guaranteed to beguile, hoax, deceive, humbug, flimflam, bedazzle, amaze, hoodwink, fool, astound, flabbergast, bamboozle, imboggle, razzle-dazzle, snare, chicane, hornswoggle, hamstring, illude, mislead, hocus, trick and completely entertain in an ingeniously artful manner – if used as recommended.”

Secrets of a Puerto Rican Gambler is available from the Merchant of Magic – only £22.99 (at the time of writing).

Review copy kindly provided by Murphys Magic to whom dealer enquiries should be directed.

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