Saturday, September 5, 2015
Carter Beats the Devil by Glen David Gold
I have no idea how I came across the book Carter Beats the Devil by Glen David Gold. Maybe I saw it in a bookstore and judged it by its cover. It really does have a fantastic cover.
It’s an odd, twisting fictional story about real people. Charles Carter, the title character, is a real person. He’s thought to have killed President Harding. Other real people are interspersed in this wonderful tale. I was left wondering how much of it was true. Probably none, but, who knows?
I enjoyed the story because I usually enjoy well-written fiction. Although I must confess, the overall story kind of escaped me throughout most of the book. It is marketed as a murder mystery, but even though the President dies early in the book, it's not clear that he's apparently the actual murder victim. It felt more biographical than plot-driven.
I’m fascinated by magic, torn between wanting to believe and wanting to know the secret. Gold gives very little away in this book, although he did extensive research and probably could have told us how it’s done. He makes it clear, however, that magic is not simple. It's apparently very costly and complex.
The story is basically that of the rise and fall of Carter the Great. Intertwined is the death of President Harding. Gold introduces several Secret Service agents and gives a detailed background to one of them. We follow his story as well as that of the magician. As the agents seem to be somewhat investigating the death of the president, Carter proceeds, as much as possible, with his life. Lots of little subplots rabbit-trail throughout. One thing I really like is how Gold fills the story with wonderful, fleshed-out, quirky characters.
I don’t want to give anything away. The ending is unexpected and fantastical. Everything is wrapped up, but like any magic show, I am left thinking, “What part of that was real?”