A hypnotizing work of historical fiction that stars 1920s magician Charles the Great, a young master performer whose skill as an illusionist exceeds even that of the great Houdini.
Nothing in his career has prepared Charles Carter for the greatest stunt of all, which stars none other than President Warren G. Harding and which could end up costing Carter the reputation he has worked so hard to create. Filled with historical references that evoke the excesses and exuberance of Roaring Twenties, pre-Depression America, Carter Beats the Devil is a complex and illuminating story of one man's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.
Set against the backdrop of early 20th-century San Francisco during the heyday of such legendary illusionists and escape artists as Harry Houdini, this thoroughly entertaining debut by an amateur magician with an M.F.A. in creative writing is a fanciful pastiche of history, fantasy and romance. The plot turns around the questionable circumstances surrounding scandal-beleaguered President Warren Harding's unexpected death on August 2, 1923, shortly after appearing on stage with the magician Carter the Great in San Francisco. Trapped without adults during the historic San Francisco blizzard of 1897, nine-year-old Charlie Carter discovers a book on magic in his father's library and entertains his brother with coin and card tricks. By the time he is 17, at the suggestion of famous "20-Mule Team" millionaire Borax Smith, Carter finds a booking with a seedy vaudeville troupe during summer vacation. Following graduation, he procures a more reputable booking and elects to postpone Yale for a year. At the end of his second tour, he is hooked and never returns to academia. Marvelously layered between flashbacks romanticizing the real Charles Carter's early years on and off the stage and later action in the mid-'20s with Secret Service
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Good read about a real magician from the early 20th century. Fun & entertaining...EAF