Carter Beats the Devil

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9780786886326: Carter Beats the Devil

A hypnotizing work of historical fiction that stars 1920s magician Charles the Great, a young master performer whose skill as an illusionist exceeds even that of the great Houdini.

Nothing in his career has prepared Charles Carter for the greatest stunt of all, which stars none other than President Warren G. Harding and which could end up costing Carter the reputation he has worked so hard to create. Filled with historical references that evoke the excesses and exuberance of Roaring Twenties, pre-Depression America, Carter Beats the Devil is a complex and illuminating story of one man's journey through a magical and sometimes dangerous world, where illusion is everything.

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Review:

In Carter Beats the Devil, Glen David Gold subjects the past to the same wondrous transformations as the rabbit in a skilled illusionist's hat. Gold's debut novel opens with real-life magician Charles Carter executing a particularly grisly trick, using President Warren G. Harding as a volunteer. Shortly afterwards, Harding dies mysteriously in his San Francisco hotel room, and Carter is forced to flee the country. Or does he? It's only the first of many misdirections in a magical performance by Gold. In the course of subsequent pages, Carter finds himself pursued by the most hapless of FBI agents; falls in love with a beautiful, outspoken blind woman; and confronts an old nemesis bent on destroying him. Throw in countless stunning (and historically accurate) illusions, some beautifully rendered period detail, and historical figures like young inventor Philo T. Farnsworth and self-made millionaire Francis "Borax" Smith, and you have old-fashioned entertainment executed with a decidedly modern sensibility.

Gold has written for movies and TV, so it's no surprise that he delivers snappy, fast-paced dialogue and action scenes as expertly scripted as anything that's come out of Hollywood in years. Carter Beats the Devil has a mustachioed villain, chase scenes, a lion, miraculous escapes, even pirates, for God's sake. Yet none of this is as broadly drawn as it might sound: Gold's characters are driven by childhood sorrows and disappointments in love, just like the rest of us, and they're limned in clever, quicksilver prose. By turns suspenseful, moving, and magical, this is the historical novel to give to anyone who complains that contemporary fiction has lost the ability to both move and entertain. --Mary Park

About the Author:

Glen David Gold received his MFA for creative writing at the University of California at Irvine and has written for newspapers, film, and television. He currently lives in Southern California.

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