Fiction Reviews

Carter Beats the Devil

(2001) Glen David Gold, Sceptre, ?, hrdbk, 620pp, ISBN 0-340-84255-5 2

In 1923 the magician Charles Carter is sought in connection with the death of President Warren G Harding who had died following his attendance at one of Carter's shows. Is the mage a murderer, or is something more bizarre going on and what, if anything, does it all have to do with a new invention created by Philo Farnsworth?

The complex plot of this exquisite period piece also includes the Secret Service, RCA and other corporations, and assassin and rival magician Mysterioso, along with insights into the magic illusions practised at the time and a special appearance by Harry Houdini! As far as first novels go, you'd have to say that this one was very ambitious. Thankfully you, or rather I, can also say it is a triumphant success. Gold has an easygoing and very accessible style and writes sympathetic and interesting characters. He has a good eye for period detail and has been thorough in his research, and the whole is therefore very convincing. I hope we can expect more from Gold since, on the basis of this first outing, there will be much to look forward to.

Tony Chester

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