A small collection of some special books that work in bizarre performances

Cogito Ergo Sum II

I saw Todd Landman perform with his great book test “Cogito Ergo Sum” during COVID lockdown. It was one of the first virtual, mystery performances I’d seen and I was blown away. The book is very special and is hard to find these days. If you see one pop up online, buy it.

The book allows for the divination of a specilific philosopher and creates some interesting presentation opportunities. I put mine in a beautiful box, beneath the book lies a heavy medallion, dedicated to the chosen philosopher.


Prof BC produces some of the finest “antiquarian” book tests I have ever seen. This one was released right at the start of the pandemic and is set in the time of the black death so it took me a while to work up the courage to perform it. 

The book is beautiful but I felt it needed some additional props to enhance the storytelling. The coin is period accurate as is the map of London. The vials of “treatment potions” and the pewter figurine remind the audience of the plague years.


Bobby Hasbun at Dark Articfice is one of the most creative minds in the bizarre business. This wonderful book is a great start to any mystery performance. It’s not a book test. It’s a wondrous curiosity.

Also in play here are the White Star living and dead test and a special “hybrid” Pocket Watch made for me by Nick Raymond in the UK. On occasion I also use Dan Baines’s GITM3 with the bosun’s whistle


Another of Bobby Hasbun’s creations is Chronos. Also not a book test but “evidence” of the author’s precognition. This concept of time-bending lends itself to multiple time bending and prediction effects.

I use my Pocket Watch mentioned in the Futility write up on this page as well as an hourglass made by Antony Lebedev. This facilitates the “stopping of time” as well as the prediction of a time.

Anthology of Love

From an unstated limitation of the first edition. The book comprises textured brown boards with brown paper jacket. Collins produced his Anthology of Love Poems in 1929, printing a limited quantity of the special “forcing book” – which allows the forcing of various words.

This book is from the late Paul Daniel’s personal collection. I haven’t performed with it yet. Still searching for some suitably “romantic” accoutrements to go with this glorious piece of literary apparatus. It looks and smells like an antique. Because it actually is.

Sign of Four/DC

I love Paul Prater’s work. “The DC” is one of his only pieces that create a great reason to use a Sherlock Holmes book. I searched for a relevant book test – one that looked old enough to fit with Paul’s perfectly aged props.

I found this forcing book based on Conan Doyle’s “Sign of Four” and it fits the theme perfectly. I crafted a newspaper article relevant to South Africa, where I live for the big reveal. Also in play here is Cagliostros Key. This I introduce by way of the redrafted news article. 


I got permission from Vic Nadata at Gemini Artifacts to rewrite the Ash journal. I needed to do this so that I could localise the story to the geographical area in which I (and my audiences) live. I also needed to change the story slightly so that I could introduce some other props. 

The journal brings into play, the Ragged School Slates by Dan Baines and the Underneath, children’s blocks by Steve Peebles. Using these in performance with the journal is so chilling, I almost scare myself. The doll is merely for spooky effect.


Any mystery performer worth their salt uses, or has used the Luna books at some point. These ones are the original Outlaw Effects versions. The photos were painstakingly assembled by George Rumsey. This really tests your ability to take the audience on a journey into the dark corners of the mind.

I bought the Luna Box from Vic Nadata at Gemini. The numbered keys help with the initial forces. To my surprise the box was also the perfect size for an electro convulsive therapy device. I also have the Classic Time Machine in play here (as a doctors fob Watch). These books were recently re-released. If you can pick up one or a set. Do it.

I bought all of these props and my "reviews" are my own opinion only