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  • Writer's pictureAlex Hui

BOOK REVIEW - Dirty Work by Ryan Matney

Updated: May 14, 2020

In order to give you the most thorough and informative review, I went through all items in this book with cards in hands. By actually doing all the routines myself, I hope I can give you the better idea of how the tricks feel like.

As with many items on other books, sometimes some effects sound better on book or look greater in performance. Thus, I will try best to look at the items from different perspectives and give you the more accurate if not the whole pictures of the effects.


When I review a product, I’d like to judge the product by itself per se, but not putting past record or creator’s name/reputation into consideration. As I have no affiliation with any magicians or dealers, I am free to give my readers full information about the product. I will provide what is not said on the advertisement and details beyond the product itself.

The philosophy is simple: get to truth of the product for you.

You will have everything good and bad about the product. Almost nothing is left out.

I believe by giving you the most transparent information, you will become a well-informed consumer in long run.

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You get a 110-page 6.7”x 9.8" paperback book with 197 black & white photos.

All items are card effects.


The book has a very easy-to-read format. Each trick basically comes with Effect, Set up (if any), Performance. There are Moves, and Discuss for some tricks.

Writing style is very clear with lots of pictures guiding the readers through the effects. In fact, in some effects there are so many pictures that reader may understand the method without any reading.

Reference and inspiration are well credited.


* Number of Tricks: 11

* Number of Card Moves: 7

* Number of Tricks Need Table: 10

* Number of Tricks Done in Hands: 1


The book includes variety of tricks. Most of them needs a working surface but the space required is often minimal, so you can adopt it to strolling performance if you want.

Most of the effects can be done impromptu but there are 5 effects which required preparation in advanced, either gimmick cards are needed or something has to be written on a card before show.

In my opinion, about 6 of the effects are built in economical way without much redundancy. 2-3 of them are tightly constructed with a logical use of moves. They are good inspiration for your own routines.

All the effects come with presentation along with explanation. The presentation is quite standard, thus you can replace with your own easily.

Generally speaking, there are quite a number of usable tricks. However, you should aware that 2 of good tricks require signed card. Which means it is much less strong if you perform unsigned version. ‘Sinner Man’ requires a full gimmick packet and very unique presentation. It may be a nice trick to Ryan Matney but to many of us it is probably unusable. Also, ‘Mechanized Chance’ is good if it is put in a beginner book, but I don’t expect readers will be thrilled. It’s because it’s just combination of some very simple self-working effects. Honestly I don’t like that effect.

How fooling are the tricks? Some of them are foolers. The cleverness of some tricks depends on coherent structure, and some depend on beautiful use of simple sleights. Unlike some sleight-of-hand magic, you don’t have to execute the moves perfectly to make them work. They somehow look like hybrid of John Guastaferro and John Bannon’s effects.


I usually rate a trick based on several factors:

1. Practical of Effect

2. Effectiveness (how magical the effect is)

3. Creativity

Sometimes, even I rate a trick (5/10), that doesn’t mean it is a bad trick. Maybe I just think the method is not particularly new or interesting. The effect may still be ok.

And even if an effect was very magical and creative in execution, I wouldn’t give high rating if it involves a lot of procedures or easy to mess up.

As a general guideline, a trick rated 7 or above is good. A rating of 9-10 guarantees a great trick (even if you don’t do it, it contains a lot of new things you can learn).

I will try to give a reason if I rate an effect low score. I hope this will give you a better idea of my reasoning.

H = In-hand, T = Need Table

1. Instill 8☆ T

2. Already Gone 10☆ T

3. Gimme Back My Bullet 9☆ T

4. Big Enough 7☆ H

5. California Dreamin’’ 9☆ H

6. To Your Corners 9☆ T

7. Mechanized Chance 5☆ T - Looks like a causal combination of effects for beginner. Not inspiring at all.

8. Jervis’s Game 10☆ T

9. Sinner Man 5☆ T - The presentation is not suitable to most performers. Gimmick cards are not usable in other tricks.

10. MacGuffin 7☆ T

11. Mystery Machine 6☆ H

My Picks of the Book

Already Gone

This is a card fusion effect where 2 spectator’s signature fused on a card. The merit of this effect is, there is no gimmick card involved at all. As any card can be used, it helps the performer a lot financially if this is in his repertoire. Also, unlike many version where DL or unloading is required, the moves are logically employed in a way that there is no redundant action at all. This effect is a study of card magic per se.

California Dreamin’

This effect is inspired by Pacoima Solution in The Classic Magic of Larry Jennings.

The premise is very simple. A card is chosen and put in a half of the deck, the other half on table. After the performer identify the selection, it is vanished and went to the other half on table, untouched during performance.

This is a cleverly improved version which eliminated some redundancy in the original version. Though Ryan Matney has not solved the major issue in the original effect (can’t discuss here because it may disclose the secret), the effect is streamlined enough to be a worker.

Jervis’s Game

This is a genius piece of magic. The audience picks a card and table it, the performer cuts some cards and reveals the mate. Then he has predicted he is right on the selection and the number of cards he cuts to.

The effect is simple to do with a double punch impact. Everything looks fair. The move in this effect is very versatile and useful in many other types of effect. It can get you the predetermined number of cards when you cut off a packet. So, you may want to use it with ACAAN or Prediction effects. This is the favorite piece of mine in this book.


1. It is well written. Very easy to read.

2. Some effects are very solidly constructed.

3. Clear credit of tricks/moves.

4. Good for performers of any levels.


1. I hope the book is published as hardbound to match the quality of the effects.

2. Some effects are like ‘fillers’.


‘Dirty Work’ is a collection of different kinds of effects, which are easy to do and practical.

Some effects are inspiring and good for creators to build upon them.

While the book is for performers for any levels, beginners and intermediate cardicians will find it more useful because it offers some go-to effects and study of routine structure. Advanced magicians may find material lack of enough punch.

At the price of $35, I would recommend it for avid card lovers. However, if you were just curious, maybe you could have a better pick of other materials.

* Book Quality: 8/10

* Effectiveness of Tricks: 7/10

* Practical: 8/10

* Creativity: 7/10

* Cost Performance: 8/10

* Final Score: 8/10

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