I know this book has been out for years, but I’ve just managed to read it. Glen David Gold describes San Francisco in the Jazz Age – when magicians were superstars, showbiz was king, and scandal lurked round every corner. Carter the Great is based on the real Charles J Carter, and his exploits on and off the vaudeville stage.
Carter Beats The Devil has almost everything one could want in a historical thriller – tough broads, rivalry, conjuring tricks, famous magicians, inventors, piracy…throw in the Secret Service, a mysterious blind woman, and a bloodthirsty small dog, and you have a compelling and entertaining book. Gold combines biography and fiction with ease, spinning a complex and clever tale.
All this aside, Carter is not the most engaging book I’ve ever read about magic – that honour belongs to Veronica, written by Nicholas Christopher.
Magical fiction looms large on my bookshelves. I greatly enjoyed Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell, pretty much everything by Neil Gaiman, and the Earthsea books, which I read as a small child. Thanks must also go to Muriel and Paul, who gave me the expanded version of Raymond E Feist’s Magician for my 21st. I will now sit on the couch, make a plate of zucchini bread disappear, and begin reading Louise Welsh’s new novel. It’s called The Bullet Trick.