Charles Carter, dubbed Carter the Great by Houdini himself, was born into privilege but became a magician out of need: only when dazzling an audience can he defeat his fear of loneliness. But in 1920s America the stakes are growing higher, as technology and the cinema challenge the allure of magic and Carter's stunts become increasingly audacious. ...
Charles Carter, dubbed Carter the Great by Houdini himself, was born into privilege but became a magician out of need: only when dazzling an audience can he defeat his fear of loneliness. But in 1920s America the stakes are growing higher, as technology and the cinema challenge the allure of magic and Carter's stunts become increasingly audacious. Until the night President Harding takes part in Carter's act only to die two hours later, and Carter finds himself pursued not only by the Secret Service but by a host of others desperate to discover the terrible secret they believe Harding confided in him. Seamlessly blending reality and fiction, Gold lays before us a glittering and romantic panorama of our modern world at a point of irrevocable change.
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This book was strongly recommended by a reviewer on a book website. This is the first book I've read about magicians and it was certainly entertaining! It was set in the age when magicians were akin to the major celebrites of super athletes of today. After a little bit of a slow start the book had much to offer: history, hints at the secrets of magic, adventure, romance (but oddly enough, no sex--a rarity these days). I had loaned it to a friend before I read it and he really enjoyed it and an e-mail buddy of mine is currently reading it (she is enjoying it too). I feel men may enjoy it more than women but I could be mistaken.
Sep 4, 2007
A magical story
"Carter Beats the Devil" , is, quite simply, fantastic. Combining elements of science fiction, mystery, horror, classic literature, historical figures and plain old good story telling this book had me enthralled till the end. Mr. Gold has crafted a wonderful tale that takes the reader around the world without making him dizzy. The historical accuracy puts you smack in the middle of the time period. Mr. Golds' research was obviously extensive and the reader is blessed by the his ability to keep it relevant. You know that the real people of the story didn't do quite what Mr. Gold writes and his judicious use of literary license keeps you wondering nonetheless. You will be unable to put it down because you need to know what happens next. And when you finish the final paragraphs and the light bulb in your head goes on you will murmur to yourself, "So that's how he did it". Mr. Gold has set a new standard in historical novels. You will be happy to say,"It was magic".
Publishers Weekly, 2001-09-03 Set against the backdrop of early 20th-century San Francisco during the heyday of such legendary illusionists and escape artists as Harry Houdini, this thoroughly entertaining debut by an amateur magician with an M.F.A. in creative writing is a fanciful pastiche of history, fantasy and romance. The plot turns around the questionable circumstances surrounding scandal-beleaguered President Warren Harding's unexpected death on August 2, 1923, shortly after appearing on stage with the magician Carter the Great in San Francisco. Trapped without adults during the historic San Francisco blizzard of 1897, nine-year-old Charlie Carter discovers a book on magic in his father's library and entertains his brother with coin and card tricks. By the time he is 17, at the suggestion of famous "20-Mule Team" millionaire Borax Smith, Carter finds a booking with a seedy vaudeville troupe during summer vacation. Following graduation, he procures a more reputable booking and elects to postpone Yale for a year. At the end of his second tour, he is hooked and never returns to academia. Marvelously layered between flashbacks romanticizing the real Charles Carter's early years on and off the stage and later action in the mid-'20s with Secret Service Agent Griffin's conviction that Carter knows Harding's apocryphal secret, the saga has the dash of Harold Robbins and the sweep and erudition of E.L. Doctorow. As it unfolds as both mystery and historical romance, readers, long before the denouement, will be torn between the pull of the suspense and wanting the epic to go on forever. (Sept.) Forecast: Hyperion is putting $100,000 of marketing muscle behind this dazzling debut, with eye-catching cover art from a vintage magic poster on the front and effusive praise from the likes of Michael Chabon on the back, so prestidigitation won't be required to make it fly off shelves. (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Publishers Weekly, 2001-11-05 Tucci gives Gold's bewitching tale of intrigue, deception and most important of all magic a performance of which both author and actor should be proud. Set in Roaring '20s San Francisco, the story takes off when President Harding agrees to appear in the finale of a show with magician Carter the Great, going through a series of dicey illusions before emerging on stage at the end to take a bow and declare his good health. Problems arise when Harding dies under strange circumstances two hours later. The rest of Gold's debut novel follows the death's ramifications for Carter and those around him, while tracing the magician's own development through a series of flashbacks. Tucci (Big Night, Joe Gould's Secret) skillfully handles the wide array of often eccentric characters. His nasal interpretation of a corrupt conjurer named Mysterioso sounds like a slightly more dastardly version of Professor Hinkle of Frosty the Snowman fame, and he is equally comfortable rendering young lovers' sweet nothings and the stentorian showmanship of a performer on stage. Listeners will lap up this enticing adventure. Simultaneous release with the Hyperion hardcover (Forecasts, Sept. 3). (Sept.) Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
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