The Crystal Ball is a Historical Character Mystery that is part of Rebecca's books.

The BeForever reprint added a glossary of Yiddish words used in the mystery.


From the Central Series


Chapter By Chapter Summary

Chapter One: Times Square Fair

Chapter Two: Houdini Happenings

Chapter Three: Magical Lights

Chapter Four: A Handful of Predictions

Chapter Five: Things Could Be Worse

Chapter Six: A Mysterious Message

Chapter Seven: Suspicions

Chapter Eight: A Puzzle in a Pawnshop

Chapter Nine: A Blind Alley

Chapter Ten: The Secret Chamber

Chapter Eleven: A Knotty Problem

Chapter Twelve: Fortunes Reversed

Glossary of Italian Words

Glossary of Yiddish Words

Looking Back

Discusses the magic career of Harry Houdini and fortune tellers during the 1900s. Topics covered:

  • Harry Houdini's real identity as Ehrich Weiss[3] and the Weisses' immigration to Appleton, Wisconsin, from Budapest, Hungary
  • Ehrich Weiss's early childhood and life as a locksmith's assistant
  • Ehrich Weiss's teenage years working as a necktie cutter in New York city
  • The Brothers Houdini, a magic act between Ehrich Weiss and Jacob Hyman,[4] taking their name from a French magician, Jean Eugène Robert-Houdin
  • The split of The Brothers Houdini and Harry Houdini's solo success as an escape artist
  • Houdini's fame and respect among immigrant families as a symbol of success, due to his name and immigrant background
  • Houdini's skepticism of spiritualists and the addition of lectures and demonstrations of tricks utilized by spiritualists to his performances, eventually testifying before Congress regarding a bill to ban fortune-telling in Washington, DC
  • Complaints filed against spiritualists and fortune tellers for scamming and swindling people in New York City
  • Pawnbrokers who brokered the sale of people's possessions and valuables, and the stigma associated with pawnshops
  • The use of pigeons among immigrants to deliver and receive messages

Book Covers


  1. Pg. 6: Rebecca was glad cousin Josef had moved in with her family for the summer.
  2. Pg. 35: Rebecca knew Josef and Uncle Jacob had been at odds ever since Josef dropped out of school. In Changes for Rebecca, Jacob had suggested that Josef attend school after being fired from the factory where he worked.
  3. This is a Germanized spelling of Harry Houdini's real name; Houdini's birth certificate states the actual Hungarian spelling as Erik Weisz.
  4. While the Looking Back section spells Jacob Hyman's surname as Hayman, this is incorrect.

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