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William Bayer

William Bayer’s THE MAGICIAN’S TALE is the first of two novels featuring and narrated by Kay Farrow, a young colorblind art photographer resident in San Francisco whose direct non-nonsense approach to people and art has made her one of the most popular of all Bayer’s lead characters.

The colors of Kay Farrow’s landscape are black, white, and shades of gray. An achromat suffering from total color blindness, Kay possesses a vision that informs her world and sharpens her skills as a talented photographer. When Kay’s friend, Tim Lovsey, a handsome male prostitute whom she has featured in her coverage of San Francisco’s sexually charged netherworld, is brutally slain, Kay makes it her mission to find his killer when she realizes the police prefer to quietly let the case drop.

Kay’s search for answers takes her back in time to an unsolved serial murder case with disturbing parallels to Tim’s killing — a case whose botched investigation led to her father’s ouster from the police force. Searching for the truth, she moves from the back alleys, exotic clubs, and dim corners of San Francisco’s underground, where – for the right price — any sexual fantasy can be realized, to the elite enclaves of the city’s most privileged class. Kay knows Tim’s murderer resides somewhere within these disparate worlds, at an intersection as gray and murky as the shadows that define her world.

Putting her life and all she holds dear at risk, Kay must sort through the riddles of the past before she can discover the shocking truth of Tim’s death. Along the way, she finds the chiaroscuro of culpability painted in shades of lust, jealousy, greed, and desire.

THE MAGICIAN’S TALE was a National Bestseller and selected by The New York Times as a “Notable Book.” It won the Lambda Award for Best Mystery. (For the original publication, William Bayer used the pseudonym David Hunt.)





THE NEW YORK TIMES: “A strange seductive story as eerie as a midnight walk in the fog. Bayer starts the fog machine by introducing us to the bleak world that a San Francisco photographer named Kay Farrow sees when she looks out from eyes that are completely colorblind. Her nocturnal prowls through the Tenderloin district take on a terrible purpose after the bizarre murder of a handsome street hustler who was her favorite model and friend. The voice of the storyteller grows more intimate, more mesmerizing, once the narrative begins to explore the shadowy depths of the victim’s past. But it is Kay’s extraordinary vision that arrests us; with the starkness of a reverse negative, it shows us light and dark, truth and deception, reality and illusion, even good and evil in ways we never imagined.”

CHICAGO TRIBUNE: “Brilliantly conceived and colorfully told.”

PEOPLE: “…mesmerizes, but the book’s lingering spell lies in the way its heroine’s perspective enables us to see, as if the first time, her beloved San Francisco in all its chiaroscuro splendor.”

PUBLISHERS WEEKLY: “A vibrant, melancholy narrative voice and street-true characters. The story line traces a sophisticated puzzle with memorably jagged figures.”

SAN FRANCISCO EXAMINER:  “Be warned that once you start, you won’t want to put down THE MAGICIAN’S TALE, a most compelling read.”

NELSON DeMILLE: “If you like your thrillers atmospheric, kinky and brooding, then THE MAGICIAN’S TALE is right up your alley. The writing is spare, savvy and San Francisco street-smart. This is one of those books that suck you in, page by page, until you’re firmly in the world created by the author. A very intense read.”

RICHARD NORTH PATTERSON: “I read this book at warp speed, and with great pleasure. THE MAGICIAN’S TALE is truly original –atmospheric, seductively written and compellingly suspenseful. The world of this book is unique, as is its unusual protagonist.”