Handcrafted Card Magic Volume 2 by Denis Behr
Reviewed by Jamy Ian Swiss (originally published in Genii July, 2011)
Denir Behr is a German cardician who made an impressive splash with his debut book, Handcrafted Card Magic (reviewed in Genii, September 2007). That excellent volume contained magic that was smart, deceptive, commercial, sophisticated, not easy, and accompanied by a high standard of historical crediting. Mr. Behr continues all of these habits in the second volume of the series now at hand.
The book opens with "Green Card," a version of Jay Sankey's popular "Paperclipped," in which the folded prediction card possesses a back of a different color than the deck in play, a strong improvement that aids in misdirecting the method. (As it happens, the late Frank Brents, my colleague in Monday Night Magic, also did a version of this plot with a contrasting-backed prediction.) This is appealing magic with a practical, well-considered method. "Two More Tricks for Allen Kennedy" revisits a plot Mr. Behr considered in the previous volume, namely faux demonstrations of the Center Deal. Although you are not actually center dealing, that doesn't mean these routines are easy, relying as they do on culls, second deals and the like, but they are clearly plotted and convincing as well as potentially entertaining. In the first of these two routines, a variation allows the spectator to insert the four Aces, face up, at random locations within the pack. The displays are remarkably strong, as are the resulting demonstrations.
In his previous book, the author discussed techniques for creating apparent disorder while actually maintaining the order of a memorized deck. In his new book he continues to explore this subject and provides additional practical tools The "Chaotic Chaos Cut" elaborates on a technique by Pit Hartling and convincingly simulates a series of running cuts from the hands to the table. In "The Plop Replacement" Mr. Behr follows up on his excellent method for culling any four-of-a-kind from a face-down memorized deck, and provides a method for openly returning the four cards to apparently random positions while in fact returning the deck to correct order. These are immensely useful solutions for the advanced memdeck practitioner.
Continuing with this theme, in "Messy the Director's Shuffle," Mr. Behr collaborates with Pit Hartling to create a convincing "Triumph" routine while retaining full-deck order. Of course, this can be readily accomplished with Dai Vernon's original Strip-Out Shuffle handling, as Vernon clearly knew, however Messrs. Behr and Hartling take a different approach to the handling, providing extremely convincing and random-looking displays that appear to prove the random face-up/face-down condition of the pack. Mr. Behr thoroughly explores a series of ideas with partial stacks, including a version of Chad Long's commercial "Shuffling Lesson." And "Stop It" is an interesting and deceptive approach to the classic Stop plot, based on a trick of Al Koran's.
Next comes "Shuffled ACAAN," a version of the classic Al Baker/Louis Gombert two-deck handling of "Any Card At Any Number." Mr. Behr's version is an astonishingly well-thought approach, one that really does allow the spectators to shuffle the pack that will eventually be dealt to the chosen number, arriving at a mate to a card selected from another pack. Now read that sentence again! "
Suit Surprise" is a very commercial routine in which all 13 cards of a given suit are produced, ending with a magical change of all 13 cards to those of a different named suit. The credits for this routine are an education in themselves, and Mr. Behr's crediting in general is superb and fascinating, providing as he does a total of 88 footnotes in the course of the text, and concluding with a four-page bibliography.
The book concludes with the playfully titled "Herbert The Trained Rubber Band," a routine for Hiro Sakai's "Band on the Run." Although Mr. Behr's presentation will not suit everyone, this is a visually mystifying effect with strong commercial appeal, in which a rubber band wrapped tightly around the pack visibly penetrates the deck to end up surrounding a single selected card.
Rarely do I trouble to inventory the entire contents of a book. In this case the contents warrant such attention, as it should be clear by now that every entry is worthy of the thoughtful cardician's attention. Looking for a book of card material that will actually deliver satisfying results? You need look no further than this.