The Intrepid Rogue’s Manual of Deception is a new book by performing mentalist Atlas Brookings, and represents his first major work since Train Tracking. This book is full of helpful advice and brilliant effects to improve your magic.
The Manual of Deception is 224 pages long and comprises 8 essays, one switch technique, and 14 effects. While he is known for his propless work, the majority of the material within encompasses some of his work with props. The Hollywood Squares prop also ships with the book.
A brief outline of the contents is included below:
* You’ll Never Find a More Wretched Hive of Scum and Villainy…
This essay asks you to take a closer look at your goals within mentalism, encouraging you to use your analytical skills to determine who is best positioned to help you to achieve those goals as you select the path you’d like to follow. It offers a system for cutting through the hype and nonsense that so often surrounds creators. It outlines what I think are the four archetypes that we most often see within this subculture.
A propless effect that can be used with a single participant or a crowd of hundreds. People are asked to think of random bits of information, which are subsequently easily revealed. This can be played either as mind reading or influence, and is a powerful technique that is always available to you.
An incredibly simple and deceptive, self-contained, one-handed billet switch — the hand not in use never leaves the pocket.
* The Importance of Being Earnest…
An essay that asks you why you are drawn to mentalism, and examines the implications for success that your answer may have.
* The Lexi-Con
A compelling, three-phase routine in which three words are freely chosen by a participant — two from a list and the third an entirely free choice. Yet, their words are the only words spelled out in a deck of alphabet cards.
* The Subtle Swindle
Formerly the Subtle Hustle (I was informed that this name was already in use elsewhere). An easy and propless means of winning or losing (your choice) at Rock, Paper, Scissors.
* The Untangled Web…
An essay that encourages the performer to consider how the audience perceives their performance, asking whether it is best to simplify and streamline presentations, and how to approach such a problem.
* High Five
An example of the principles above put into practice, High Five is a close-up effect using five numbered business cards. The participant selects a card at random for both the performer and themselves, and their choices are predicted, as is the five-digit number that they create.
An impromptu and propless murder mystery game in which the performer becomes a human lie detector and hunts the elusive killer.
* Hollywood Squares
A wonderful routine that involves an apparently innocent, yet gimmicked business card (supplied with the book). It allows the performer, working with up to three participants, to determine which different celebrities have been thought of by the participants.
* A Head Bloodied but Unbowed…
An essay that emphasizes the importance of developing and improving problem-solving skills, complete with an example from my personal working repertoire that allows dual reality to be performed in audiences of any size. This includes those who know one another well and corporate audiences — all without any of the drawbacks typically associated with the method.
* Ariadne’s Thread
A hands-off effect in which the performer gets the participant to randomly think of a number, deal out playing cards onto the table, remember the card at their number, and reveal that card with ease.
* Market Traitor
A game is played revolving around honesty and Wall Street. Envelopes containing stock picks made by anonymous ‘whistleblowers’ are laid down before four participants, who are then given a free choice of stocks to invest in. After three days of trading, the proceedings are called to a halt as the Securities and Exchange Commission (or FCO in the UK) arrests all four participants for insider trading. The prediction envelopes are opened, proving that, in each case, the anonymous whistleblower’s information was correct.
* Wasting Time is Only Robbing Oneself…
An essay that examines the formula for finding the most direct route to accomplishing your effects, both in script and actions. Its goal is to help you remove dead time from your show, allowing you to establish and keep the pace moving.
* Don’t Make a Mess of Your Message…
An essay discussing the benefit of conveying a message in your presentation, and how best to accomplish this.
Contained within the above essay, the workings of this Blackpool effect (filmed back in 2014) are explained along with the history and reasons behind embedding a message into an effect.
* White Out
A pseudo hypnosis effect in which a participant, apparently in a trance state, is able to select the match to a playing card chosen by another despite no one’s knowing the card’s identity (including the performer). Moreover, when shown the faces of the rest of the deck, they are blank to this participant despite the deck’s being clearly visible to the audience.
* It’s Still Snowing
A single-person version of the above effect, with an influence theme. A prediction is tabled before the card is even selected – and the participant selects from a face-up, fanned pack in which each card is demonstrably different. Still, the selected card matches the tabled prediction!
A casual, conversational personality reading that ends with the performer revealing the day, month, and year of the participant’s birth – despite apparently none of this information being communicated to the performer. The most common feedback I hear about this effect is that it is better than Isabella’s Star, which is no small compliment indeed!
* What Will Your Verse Be…
An essay that deals with what is, in my opinion, the right way and the wrong way to contribute your ideas to the mentalism community, along with a marketing guideline for those seeking to establish and manage their brand.
* The Intrepid League of Super Villainy
A companion to my “think of a super hero” plot, along with the two-person presentation that makes this such an entertaining piece for the set of friends with whom you are working.
* One in the Chamber
An incredibly simple billet technique that can be applied to nearly any billet routine. Imagine a load, switch, and peek that are invisible. Your hands are shown clean throughout, and you never go to your pockets. This is my ‘go to’ move when performing a Q and A routine.
* It’s a Traaaaaaaaaaap!!
A final word of advice to those who would like to chase their dreams and live life on their own terms. It is entirely possible, but you HAVE to know this one thing – and you have to take it to heart.