The 39 Clues Wiki
The 39 Clues Wiki

The Houdini Escape is the fourth book in the Cahill Files series. It was released on August 7, 2012, have 90 pages and is available as an e-book only, however was published in Spymasters. It comes with Card 454: No Escape. The main antagonist of this book is Zoltan.


As a young Janus, Harry Houdini must come up the trick of his life to escape the Vespers.


New York City, 1891

The story follows Janus famous escapologist, Harry Houdini. That night, he is performing his magic trick in cards with the tale of the four kings, but it all goes wrong. Before, the queen of hearts is asked to be kept by a boy, but when asked to reveal it, the card is gone. The audience mutter about wasting their money to a hack. Actually, Harry has made a mistake: he picked the wrong boy. Thaddeus, the ringmaster, comes to him, angry. If Harry makes another failure, then he is off the job. Then, Harry leaves for Manhattan. When he arrives home, Harry is shocked to found his house ransacked. His parents talks about Harry's job, which upsets about making living from magic. With this, Harry intends not to do magic anymore, instead working in a necktie factory.

Things gets worse when Harry works in the necktie factory. He cuts in the wrong angle and he loses the job. He goes back home and he sees three men entering the house and talk to his father. Harry eavesdrop on the conversation: his father owes the men money. After the men exit the house, Harry decides to trail them. The trail ends the men talked to Chief Officer McKane. A fight ensues, and Harry tries to hide, but later, he gets busted. The three men grabs him and sail on the Hudson River to drown Harry. They tie him up with rope, then drop him in the water. He wiggles and he released the rope that bounds him. He remains silent until the three men are gone.

His father is mad, and then without thinking, he mentions the Vespers, resulting in him telling everything: life is not easy in Hungary, especially for Jews. He wants to go to America, but when the paper came through, he still did not have money for the passage. Therefore, his father loaned the money from the Vespers to buy the ticket, then left money for Harry, his mother and siblings to catch up later. Everything is explained. Harry has to do something. He has to remain hidden until Zoltan and his henchmen (the Vespers) return to Europe. Harry promises he will do anything to take care of the family.

That day, during his performance, he sees Zoltan and his henchmen are among the audiences. So he came up with a plan. The trick is to provide all the audience a card, put the lamp on the middle, turn it off, then shake the tent and run for his life. It is not even a trick; it is a way to escape. On the run, the Vespers catch up with him. Zoltan is surprised to find Harry Houdini still alive. So, they make a deal. One task to help the Vespers, or Harry's beloved family will be harmed. With no other choice but to consent, Harry chooses to help. The first plan is the observation. He, along with his best friend Jacob, will get inside and view possible routes and exits, and of course the target. After that, Harry parts away with Jacob, and heads for rendezvous with the Vespers for the mission.

The heist is on. Bjorn stuffs in Harry inside a package in order to make it look like a delivery. Harry is remain silence until everyone is out, so when they are out, he gets out of the package and makes his way to the target. He replaces the real terra-cotta jar with the fake one in Greek and Roman arts. The real has some markings on the base (it could be a map). While escaping the building, he gets spotted by a guard, but fortunately, he escapes. Later, he makes his way to the docks. Harry hands over the jar to Zoltan, but Zoltan has something in mind again. He wants Harry to join the Vespers. Once Harry on the boat, Zoltan is drowning him again (since he already sent a telegram to V-1 that Harry is drowned, and he cannot tell lies). This time with chains, the drowning will supposedly be fatal. Once he is underwater, he uses his famous talent to escape and hides, causing the Vespers to claim him dead. When the Vespers have gone, Harry is safe. He meets with Jacob at the pier. It seems it is not Harry alone doing the trick. Jacob managed to switch the urns and take blackmail money from the Vespers while Harry made a distraction. Everything has come to a good end.

Harry decides to become a magician after all, and together with Jacob, they entertain Coney Island with stunning magic they use from the blackmail money.