I’m a big fan of Paul Brook’s work and thinking. His recent Networker Deck was an outstanding release. I mention that because this is going to be a slightly negative review, and I want it to be clear that, as ever, I’m trying to be objective.

Let’s get the details of the effect out of the way. The essential effect is simple – your spectator sets the combination on a combination padlock. Without watching them you are able to correctly reveal the combination – or present it in any manner of mind-reading dressing. The padlock can be freely examined with nothing to discover.

Nothing to discover

That last phrase is crucial since you are, in fact, supplied with an ‘ordinary’ padlock. The 40 page e-book which you can download online describes a technique/knack which will enable you to perform the effect or its variations.

paul brook locked in thought reviewAs ever with Paul’s releases, the ebook is beautifully written and explanations are fairly clear. You’ll also pick up some great presentational nuggets on the way. However, the lock supplied doesn’t quite correspond to the description in the instructions (perhaps the mass-release through Murphys utilises a different lock?) and after diligently working through the instructions, I found that I just couldn’t get the knack.

Locked in conflict

This makes me slightly hesitant to be negative, since the fault may be with my technique/understanding, rather than with the lock itself. But on the other hand the issue may be with the lock. And without replacing it and testing another one it is rather hard to say.

I have noticed a few people with these kinds of issues on some of the forums – and Paul has very kindly offered to do some Skype tuition with them – which is another sign of what a decent bloke he is. But for me, these initial problems put it into the category of something I’m unlikely to use.

Final thoughts

I do own at least one ‘gaffed’ version of this kind of effect (from memory a Mick Hanzlik release) and there are pros and cons to both. With the gaffed version it is extremely easy for you to operate – so little to worry about on the mechanics of it. On the other hand, it wouldn’t bear much scrutiny, and you need to work harder on your presentation to cover the ‘tell’. With this ‘ungaffed’ version there is nothing for the audience to discover, however you’ll have to work much harder on the technique.

Different approaches will suit different people. And the advantage to using a routine you have to work harder at is that fewer people will be performing it!

We leave you to make up your own mind which approach suits you better.

Locked in Thought is available from Merchant of Magic for £64.50 (at the time of writing).

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

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