Scotland Up Close by Peter Duffle
Reviewed by Jamy Ian Swiss (originally published in Genii May, 2006)
Scottish cardician Peter Duffle's latest offering is a compilation of his countrymen's card tricks. Scotland Up Close contains 26 tricks, most previously unpublished, from 18 contributors, including notables like Roy Walton, Gordon Bruce, and R. Paul Wilson, along with a bounty of other names less familiar on this side of the pond.
The contents are a mixed bag, but as a compilation, I suppose that's the point. On the one hand, there is some-thing for everyone; on the other hand, with such a wide variety of content, few readers are likely to find everything to their tastes or liking. If you're inclined toward demanding sleight-of-hand, you'll find your skills called to duty with the use of Shifts, Mechanical Reverses, and even Lateral Palm. If you lean toward the self-working, there are samples of that genre. There are full-deck stacks based on Stewart James material. There are several versions of "Spectator Cuts to the Aces." There are cards in impossible locations. There are small packets and full decks. There are ordinary cards, stranger cards, alphabet cards, one-way decks, and gaffs. As I said: something for everyone, but probably not everything for someone.
That said, this particular someone enjoyed a sucker gambling demo from Jim Boyd, the relentlessly un-credited inventor of the famed "Hopping Halves" coin routine (and whom I had the pleasure of meeting when I performed at last year's South Tyneside International Magic Festival). Peter McLanachan offers a very nice solution to the endlessly problematic Hofzinser Ace Problem. "Skinned" may well be the most commercial idea in the book, in which a selected card, in a flash of fire, appears in a packet of cigarette papers. Steve Hamilton provides a Torn-and-Restored Card-to-Impossible-Location routine, based on a Stanley Collins trick, that could readily serve as a commercial plat-form item. "Total Recall" is a subtle and deceptive trick from lain Girdwood which demonstrates the apparently psychic ability to divine the colors of an entire deck of cards which has been shuffled by a spectator. R. Paul Wilson, fresh from his duties leading The Gang That Couldn't Cheat Straight, presents two solid items, one of which, "Thinking Cap," delivers the kind of "perfect location" that will assuredly fool the hell out of your fellow mage. As specialized an item as that is balanced by his second entry, an exceedingly simple Cards Across with envelopes, a la Zens.
Material I found less to my taste was a combination of Ambitious Card, Carlyle's "Homing Card," Williamson's "51 to Pocket," and "Card to Wallet," all accomplished in four minutes if you like that kind of thing, which I do not. (By the way, does anyone know what it means when people become "alert and comprehensive?" Perhaps it's a Scottish thing I wouldn't understand.) An over-handled sandwich trick manages to excise logic and naturalness in place of inventing a new move. But all right, fair's fair someone else might love these two tricks and hate the rest.
The production is minimal (as is some of the crediting it's not wrong, just absent in a few places), this being a very simple downloadable e-book which is readily printable. It's actually rather easy to read right on the screen, helped along a bit by the Table of Contents that will jump you to any item with a single click, combined with a handy click-able "return to index" that's found at the conclusion of every trick description; thus despite the bare bones design, navigation is easy. All in all, the price tag is certain-ly reasonable: As $30 seems to become increasingly commonplace these days for a DVD of a single trick (and per-haps even at that a trick that no one can use), hell even two good tricks would render this $25 e-book a bargain.