The Magicians by Kit Sloane gives us an interesting insider’s look at some of the various subcultures that make Hollywood what it is. The Magicians is a mystery novel involving a murder on a reality show set, but the murder investigation itself, while definitely interesting, takes a backseat to the crazy world that those driven by their Hollywood dreams inhabit.
Sloane sets her story in the set of a. show gone too far. The protagonist of the book, Margot O’Banion, has agreed to appear on a show to help out her friends who are trying to use it to promote their restaurant. Unfortunately for Margot, she has signed a contract saying that the cameras can follow her everywhere. When the cooking show fails, the cameras keep rolling, invading poor Margot’s private life in the most intrusive ways. There’s nothing legally that she can do to stop them. As they follow her in more and more covert ways, she becomes paranoid.
That’s the plot, but the fun for me was looking into the strange world of Hollywood. As in any industry, the television and film industry is structured with a strict hierarchy. In this book, we see how the television people are viewed by film people and how everyone seems to relate to reality television. It’s not pretty. Reality television by its nature needs to be intrusive. Normally, I wouldn’t feel any sympathy for someone on a reality television show. After all, those people wanted the intrusion. Margot has been tricked into her loss of privacy, however, and she suffers at the hands of people desperate to use her husband’s fame for their gain.
And we are given a view of the hierarchy within a movie and television set. Margot’s husband is a film director and within his world, his word is law. It’s a mirror of what happens on the reality set. Of course, we know all of this already, but it’s one thing to know a fact and another thing to see how it plays out first hand.
The really great thing about this novel isn’t the mystery. It’s the look at human nature that reality television is supposed to give. We see greed, desperation, fame, and love up close in this great novel. I highly recommend it.