Devilishly good fun

9 06 2011

Carter beats the Devil by Glen David Gould

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.

Charles Carter is given his stage name “Carter the Great” by the legendary Harry Houdini and by and large lives up to the title. Hugely entertaining romp this which feels historically authentic and is a really quite compelling narrative. Very good indeed. (I’d always been put off in the past by the cover of this book for some reason but reading on iPad meant that problem didn’t arise.)

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