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Carter Beats the Devil
GLEN DAVID GOLD

Carter Beats the Devil by Glen David Gold
201 reviews (2001) (9p)
Amazon.com Best Books

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Book Description
America in the 1920's is a nation obsessed with magic. Enter Charles Carter -- called Carter the Great. Fueled by a passion for magic borne out of childhood desperation and loneliness, Carter has become a legend in his own time.

Carter the Great's thrilling act involves outrageous stunts carried out on elaborate sets before the most demanding of audiences. But nothing in his career prepares him for his most outrageous stunt of all, which stars none other than president Warren G. Harding and could and up costing Carter the reputation he has worked so hard to create.

Filled with historical references that evoke the excesses and exuberance of Roaring 20's pre-Depression America, Carter Beats the Devil is a complex and illuminating story of one man's journey through a magical -- and sometimes dangerous -- world, where illusion is everything.


Amazon.com 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


Glen David Gold Award Stats
Major Prize* Nominations 0  
Unique Books Nominated for a Major Prize* 0  
Pulitzer Prize Wins 0  
Pulitzer Prize Nominations 0  
National Book Critics Circle Award Wins 0  
National Book Critics Circle Award Nominations 0  
National Book Award Wins 0  
National Book Award Nominations 0  
Man Booker Prize Wins 0  
Man Booker Prize Nominations 0  
PEN/Faulkner Award Wins 0  
PEN/Faulkner Award Nominations 0  

*Major Prize = Pulitzer Prize, National Book Critics Circle Award, National Book Award, Man Booker Prize, and PEN/Faulkner Award

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