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Maugham's enchanting tale of secrets and fatal attraction The Magician is one of Somerset Maugham's most complex and perceptive novels. Running through it is the theme of evil, deftly woven into a story as memorable for its action as for its astonishingly vivid characters. In fin de siecle Paris, Arthur and Margaret are engaged to be married. Everyone approves and everyone seems to be enjoying themselves-until the sinister and repulsive Oliver Haddo appears.