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Carter Beats the Devil

Gold, Glen David

11,061 ratings by Goodreads
ISBN 10: 0786867345 / ISBN 13: 9780786867349
Published by Hyperion, New York, 2001
Condition: Fine Hardcover
From Sentinel Books (Olathe, KS, U.S.A.)

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Bibliographic Details

Title: Carter Beats the Devil

Publisher: Hyperion, New York

Publication Date: 2001

Binding: Hardcover

Book Condition:Fine

Dust Jacket Condition: Fine

Signed: Signed by Author(s)

Edition: First Edition

About this title

Synopsis:

An amazing, richly evocative novel of magic and history in the tradition of E. L. Doctorow and Caleb Carr.

America in the 1920s was a nation obsessed with magic. Not just the kind performed in theaters and on stages across the country, but the magic of technology, science, and prosperity. Enter Charles Carter -- a.k.a. Carter the Great -- a young master performer whose skill as an illusionist exceeds even that of the great Houdini. Fueled by a passion for magic that grew out of desperation and loneliness, Carter has become a legend in his own time. His thrilling act involves outrageous stunts carried out on elaborate sets before the most demanding audiences. But the most outrageous stunt of all stars none other than President Warren Harding and ends up nearly costing Carter the reputation he worked so hard to create. Filled with historical references that evoke the excesses and enthusiasm of postwar, pre-Depression America, Carter Beats the Devil is the complex and illuminating story of one man's journey through a magical -- and sometimes dangerous -- world, where illusion is everything, and everything is illusory.

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

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