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.
'Here is a book - a first novel, no less - to blow you away. It seeks to stun and amaze and deceive and, always, to entertain...it works on every level' (Guardian
'An electrifying mystery tour from the turn of the 20th century to the end of the roaring twenties...[it] casts a spell that is sly, intoxicating, deceitful and enduring. Savour its every page' (Independent
'A quirky life story that transmutes into a John Buchan thriller...Engaging, comical and, yes, magical, this is a sure-fire contender for the debut novel of the year' (Independent on Sunday