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Carter Beats the Devil [Paperback]

4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (151 customer reviews)

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First Sentence
He wasn't always a great magician. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I am craving more Gold! March 17 2004
I would love to read this book again. But what would be the point! I remember each detail as though I had read it yesterday.
Just looked up my old review and was amazed that it has been
2 1/2 years since I read it. This will always be one of my all-time favorites. Glen, you are really Gold.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Carter Beats Self Feb. 15 2004
By A Customer
Carter Beats The Devil is a fairly interesting read. This book would definately find a nice place in the hands of those that enjoy history and interesting tidbits about how things gained their names ie how lofts (apartments) gained their name. Futhermore, CBTD starts off with a jump and kept my attention until a little over half way through the book. At this point, I found myself struggling to finish the book. I began exclusively seeking those historical tidbits just to make the last half of the book bearable. With that (attempting not to give anything away) the romance shared between Carter and his lover became highly unrealistic. It almost felt like the author was struggling to turn the novel into some dime store romance fling (and not a well written one at that). I found it completely unbelievable and dreadful to read. All in all, I finished the book and would like to conclude that it is creative and there are many interesting little side suprises throughout the book. However, if your looking for something amazing then I would skip this book and keep looking.
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4.0 out of 5 stars An enjoyable read Jan. 14 2004
The amount of research that Gold put into Carter Beats the Devil is readily apparent - yet this work of historical fiction reads like a novel. The first 80% of the book leads in a very pleasant and engrossing way up to the climactic scene that takes place during Carter's last major show. While Gold doesn't give away many tricks - he does make you feel as if you were standing in the wings of the Orpheum Theater. You can see, hear and almost touch the audience, the catwalk above, the dressing are there with Carter (albiet with a slightly blocked view) as he performs his greatest tricks and has the time of his life - and as the other plotlines come to a head. I started into this scene at 10:30pm - and didn't stop until 12am even thought I had to get up at 5am!
The details of life in San Francisco in the teens/20's are rich, the writing is clear, Carter is well fleshed out (though the rest of the characters are a little stereotypical)...this is a good read. I'd recommend it to someone who was not in the mood for anything deep but didn't want anything cheesy or trashy. A fun book worth your while.
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4.0 out of 5 stars A Devil of a Good Time Dec 2 2003
***Some spoilers ahead***
This book took a little while to get moving for me, but once it did, it really took off and I was hooked.
"Carter Beats the Devil" is a sprawling thing, loosely historical (very loosely) and freshly unpredictable. I didn't realize until I read Glen David Gold's afterword that Charles Carter was a real magician performing in the heyday (teens and '20s) of the magic boom in the U.S. But don't be scared away by a dose of history with your fiction. The history on display here is only history in the loosest sense of the word. This book is first and foremost a work of fiction; let's face it---any book that has Warren Harding living on a deserted island with his wife and a menagerie of retired circus animals can't be taken too seriously, right?
The beginning of the book, detailing Carter's childhood and his motivations in becoming a magician, aren't that involving. For once, I just didn't care why he became a magician, and I would have accepted "he just wanted to perform magic" as reason enough. But on top of motivation not being necessary, the motivation Gold does provide isn't particularly interesting.
On top of the weak beginning, I thought the book was going to run a predictable course: Begin with framing device, explain childhood of protagonist, explain success of protagonist, explain downfall of protagonist, explain comeback of protagonist, return to framing device. I thought the novel would end with Harding's death, since that it is where it starts. But I was pleasantly surprised to find that the real plot didn't even get started until after Harding has "died." Once I reached this point in the book, I couldn't put it down and found scene after scene to be thrilling and memorable: the demonstration of T.V.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Magic and Intrigue at the Turn of the Century Nov. 16 2003
By gac1003
Thursday, August 2, 1923. Magician Carter the Great is performing the third act of his show, the act called "Carter Beats the Devil." He' set up earlier to have a volunteer from the audience come on-stage, President Warren G. Harding.
Two hours after the show, President Harding is found dead in his hotel room. Charles Carter, the Magician, is the main suspect, and Secret Service Agent Jack Griffin is determined to prove his guilt.
Glen David Gold's novel follows the life of Charles Carter, from his childhood days with his seemingly neglectful parents to his first major illusion that makes his name and earns the friendship of Harry Houdini -- and a terrible enemy. From that day on, he strives to create the next, great illusion and in the process learns of a secret from President Harding that will revolutionize the world, but which also puts him in danger. All the while, he struggles with the accidental death of his wife Sarah.
The characters are well-drawn and realistic, and that, mixed in with actual persons from the time period, make for a more believable story. The descriptions of the magic acts are some of the most suspenseful scenes I've read -- case in point is Blackmail, the first big illusion that gets him really noticed in the industry -- and had me eagerly turing the page to find out what happens. As it states in the book, a magician never reveals his tricks so you must read the book to understand what I mean. At the same time, gold creatives a vivid picture of Vaudeville and the life its performers lead. Not to mention the terrific desriptions of the San Francisco of the 1920's.
Full of fantastic charcaters, both real and fictional, this novel is full of excitement, adventure and intrigue.
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Carter Beats Boredom
I haven't been inspired to write a review in some time, but felt that this book warranted it. This is a truly, truly enjoyable read. Mr. Read more
Published on May 23 2004 by A. Jarrells
5.0 out of 5 stars Interesting Story and Enjoyable Reading
Carter Beats the Devil was a very enjoyable read. I enjoy fiction that refers to history, and this book was very interesting. Read more
Published on March 17 2004 by Donna Grayson
5.0 out of 5 stars Solid book
This is a fun historic novel. It does a good job of grabbing you at the beginning and I will admit some of the middle of the book dragged. Read more
Published on March 17 2004 by Scott E. Conrad
5.0 out of 5 stars My favourite novel published this century
I don't really like much modern fiction - most of it is too self-absorbed (that is, the author thinks he or she is really smart and wants you to know it) or too negative (we all... Read more
Published on Oct. 20 2003 by J. Lawrence
4.0 out of 5 stars Entertaining but not profound
I enjoyed this book in general. The story is engaging, and the plot has enough twists and turns to keep the reader fascinated without becoming confusing. Read more
Published on Oct. 8 2003 by P. Lozar
4.0 out of 5 stars Historical Fact and Fiction Mesh-Pot
Charles Carter (aka Carter The Great) is a magician with quite a lot of baggage. He's being taled by a secret service agent (Griffin) who believes he helped assassinate President... Read more
Published on Sept. 28 2003 by B. Merritt
3.0 out of 5 stars Abracadabra
In Glen David Gold's Carter Beats the Devil, we tread through historical facts to follow the fictional life of Charles Carter. Read more
Published on Sept. 11 2003 by Jason Baer
5.0 out of 5 stars So well done you'll think its true
I love books that successfully blend fiction with historical facts. There's something about a story that successfully weaves fictional characters into the factual past in such a... Read more
Published on Aug. 22 2003 by James Sadler
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