With romance, magic and science as its central themes, Glen David Gold's impressive debut Carter Beats The Devil
is an inspired delight, a dazzling combination of fact and fiction. Charles Carter is given his stage name "Carter the Great" by the legendary Harry Houdini and the jazz age of the early 1900s is clearly well researched, yet the romance and strong cast of characters must owe more to the imagination than to history.
The novel begins in 1923 with the most daring performance of Carter's life. Unfortunately, two hours into the performance, US President Harding is dead and the magician must flee the country, pursued by the Secret Service. This is only an instalment in Carter's amazing life though as we are guided from his childhood, where both the family servant and a circus freak bullied him, to his rise to stardom and his eventual performance in front of the president. Subsequently, the protagonist is crippled by loneliness, widowed and hunted down by those who believe him a murderer and yet he rises again and again to delight and fulfil the highest expectations of his audience. The strong narrative and storyline make for a compelling read. And Carter is such a magical character that you cannot fail to be touched by him--loving whom he does and hating his enemies.
This is an ambitious and compulsive novel and deserves all the praise that Carter himself received and more. If you like this, you may also be interested in reading Michael Chabon's Pulitzer Prize-winning The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay --Hannah Smith
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
'Engaging, comical and, yes, magical, this is a sure-fire contender for the debut novel of the year.' (Christian House, Independent on Sunday )
'Mesmerising ... the plot turns a dazzling array of somersaults ... Savour its every page' (Graham Caveney, Independent )
'A top-hat-and-tails performance...suspenseful, compendious, moving and persuasive' (Michael Chabon )
'It's refreshing to see an author so obviously into his characters and debut novelist Glen David Gold radiates enthusiasm in his tale of magician Charles Carter, implicated in the death of 29th US president Warren Harding. What's most unbelievable about this stagey set-up is that it's based on actual events. The droll, good-natured narrative never stumbles over 600 pages and Gold's characters, the endearingly troubled Carter at the top of the bill, sit so naturally in the proceedings they positively seem to enjoy being part of his show. Encore please!' (The Face )
'A magnificent achievement. The plot is endlessly inventive and surprising and pulls the reader through some very complicated events in the most compelling way.' (Charles Palliser )
'An extraordinary story ... a daredevil feat of writing that will remind you how much fun reading can be' (Helen Brown, Daily Telegraph )
'Brilliantly inventive and constantly surprising ... you're unlikely to read a better book this year.' (Eve )
'A stormer of a novel, this- the perfect read for people who despise airport blockbusters yet find themselves on aeroplanes longing for a good, meaty page turner' (The Guardian )
'With elements of the whodunnit and, crucially fo a book about magic tricks, the howdunnit, this is a four-course meal of a novel' (The Guardian )
'This pacy book rips along to a marvellous and truly unexpected denouement' (The Times )
'An enormously assured first novel' (New York Times )
'This is the curtain-raiser for an intricately structured feast of a novel...a wonderful swirling novel' (The Daily Telegraph )
'Spellbinding ... An inventively plotted novel that despite its size manages to surprise at every twist.' (Arena Summer Reading )
'Carter Beats the Devil is all the things a good novel should be ... A daredevil achievement. Bravo.' (Barbara Mella, What's on in London )
'An audaciously plotted and wonderfully camp adventure.' (Telegraph Summer Reading Paperback Fiction Choice )
'Carter Beats the Devil is a cracking murder mystery unfurling the genteel milleu' (The Times )
'This was many critics' choice for book of the year in 2001, and a first novel that's hard to fault. The plotting is so immaculate, and the themes of illusion and deception so well executed, it's utterly mesmerising.' (Shauna Bartlett, Glamour magazine 20020901)
'A rollicking good read.' (Mateen Kaul, Literary Review 20020901)