This is simply the best "how to" guide I have ever read. Ian Rowland systematically set out the theory and practice of how to convince strangers that, through supernatural powers, you have insight into their lives.
He is not (quite) saying that there are no genuine psychics. What he is clearly saying is that the astonishing abilities often demonstrated in readings can be achieved by humans with knowledge, skill and practice. He leaves it to the reader to reach their own conclusion on whether this multi-billion pound industry, which targets the most emotionally vulnerable, is full of well meaning charlatans, exploitative liars and fraudsters without conscience.
The book is well structured but is no text-book - his conversational style makes it an easy read. "Section 2: How Cold Reading Works" is the heart of the book. The approaches are set out with colourful names (Rainbow Ruses, Barnum Statements, Pollyanna Pearls, Sugar Lumps to name just a few) and with illustrations to make them their usage clear.
Through real life examples he then shows how techniques that seem cold and obvious on the page can be made warm and convincing when delivered in a face-to-face encounter.
If a newspaper article or tv program has made you curious about cold reading, this is the book to buy. If you have had a powerful psychic reading, and you are torn as to whether you believe it or not, this book gives you the tools to think rationally about what you have experienced, and could help you make a judgment that is informed. For everyone else I just recommend it as a great read.
Do shop around for this book, as it is pricey. However, even at the list price, it is less than the cost of one visit to a psychic and, in my view at least, will leave you very much better informed.