A dazzling debut, a gripping, panoramic novel of magic and science, love and death set in 1920s America
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 for 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.
Glen David Gold was born and grew up in California, where he currently lives. His first novel, CARTER BEATS THE DEVIL was published in 2001, when it was shortlisted for the Guardian First Book Award, and has been translated into 14 languages. His second novel, SUNNYSIDE, was published in 2009. His short stories and essays have appeared in the New York Times Magazine, Playboy and McSweeney's.
Engaging, comical and, yes, magical, this is a sure-fire contender for the debut novel of the year. — Christian House, Independent on Sunday
Mesmerising ... the plot turns a dazzling array of somersaults ... Savour its every page — Graham Caveney, Independent
A top-hat-and-tails performance...suspenseful, compendious, moving and persuasive — Michael Chabon
It's refreshing to see an author so obviously into his characters and debut novelist Glen David Gold radiates enthusiasm in his tale of magician Charles Carter, implicated in the death of 29th US president Warren Harding. What's most unbelievable about this stagey set-up is that it's based on actual events. The droll, good-natured narrative never stumbles over 600 pages and Gold's characters, the endearingly troubled Carter at the top of the bill, sit so naturally in the proceedings they positively seem to enjoy being part of his show. Encore please! — The Face
A magnificent achievement. The plot is endlessly inventive and surprising and pulls the reader through some very complicated events in the most compelling way. — Charles Palliser
An extraordinary story ... a daredevil feat of writing that will remind you how much fun reading can be — Helen Brown, Daily Telegraph
Brilliantly inventive and constantly surprising ... you're unlikely to read a better book this year. — Eve
A stormer of a novel, this is the perfect read for people who despise airport blockbusters yet find themselves on aeroplanes longing for a good, meaty page turner — The Guardian
With elements of the whodunnit and, crucially for a book about magic tricks, the howdunnit, this is a four-course meal of a novel — The Guardian
This pacy book rips along to a marvellous and truly unexpected denouement — The Times
An enormously assured first novel — New York Times
This is the curtain-raiser for an intricately structured feast of a novel...a wonderful swirling novel — The Daily Telegraph
Spellbinding ... An inventively plotted novel that despite its size manages to surprise at every twist. — Arena Summer Reading
Carter Beats the Devil is all the things a good novel should be ... A daredevil achievement. Bravo. — Barbara Mella, What's on in London
An audaciously plotted and wonderfully camp adventure. — Telegraph Summer Reading Paperback Fiction Choice
Carter Beats the Devil is a cracking murder mystery unfurling the genteel milleu — The Times
This was many critics' choice for book of the year in 2001, and a first novel that's hard to fault. The plotting is so immaculate, and the themes of illusion and deception so well executed, it's utterly mesmerising. — Shauna Bartlett, Glamour magazine
A rollicking good read. — Mateen Kaul, Literary Review