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Magic Hour Themes

(Beacham's Encyclopedia of Popular Fiction)

The external plot of Magic Hour involves solving a murder, but the internal plot interwoven with it is a love story. The love story carries the major theme. "Follow your heart" is an unexceptional theme for love stories, but in Steve Brady's case, it is more a matter of "Follow your obsession." As he investigates the murder, the evidence against Bonnie Bernstein Spencer, the mogul's ex-wife, piles up. At the same time, Steve is becoming obsessed with her, not in the classic way of a detective obsessed with trapping his prey, but in the woozy way of a man falling in love against all logic. When the police are ready to take her in, he cannot stand it. He hides her.

It is a stupid and impulsive act by normal standards. In his past, following his impulses has led to destructive behavior. Steve himself is half convinced of her guilt at this point. What can lead him to jeopardize his police career and his engagement, for a woman who may be a murderer, and admittedly went back to bed with her ex-husband just a few days ago? Steve still cannot believe that such a warm and vulnerable and affectionate woman could really be a killer. And he suddenly sees a future without Bonnie looming ahead of him, bleak and meaningless.

In the event, Steve's trust is justified. Not only is Bonnie innocent, but as they talk about how to clear her, she provides the vital clue which leads to the real murderer. All the time he hides her, Steve knows it is only a temporary solution. Duty still has its hold on him; he has to solve the killing soon or both of them will pay for his impulsive act. This is the parallel theme to the major one: following one's heart does not mean duty can be tossed aside. When Steve goes to arrest Sy's murderer, we see how far his sense of duty goes.

A minor theme is that one reaps what one sows. It comes out most strongly in the manner of Sy's death; his own solution to his problems backfires.