17. Carter Beats the Devil: Glen David Gold

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17. Carter Beats the Devil: Glen David Gold

Post  Patguy on Sat Dec 19, 2009 12:52 am

"Carlo's girl had a sleek and well-maintained 1923 Cadillac speedster, or rather, her husband did. Its body was a deep blue that spoke of endless coats of polish, which the servants applied without complaining, for the owner traveled frequently, the odometer was easy to disconnect, and Sunset Beach was an easy destination."

An entertaining first novel, set in the 1920s, with lots of enjoyable period detail, centering around the world of stage magic and vaudeville. It's kind of a mystery too (specifically, President Harding's mysterious(?) death), though I wasn't overly thrilled with that aspect of it. The real joys come from the characters and the milieu. The quality of the writing is functional, but every so often lapses into crappiness; chapter 15, for instance, a post-cute-meet first date between our hero and his future wife, reads like a bad MFA writing exercise. By contrast, the paragraph I quoted up at the top here is excellent, though I could have done without the final "Sunset Beach" clause. In fact that's kind of representative of the novel as a whole—for every stretch of good writing, there's just a little bit too much embroidery. And at 480+ pages, it's certainly 100 pages too long. Still, the book builds up a lot of affection in the reader, and so I don't feel like being too harsh. Recommended, with qualifications.

Patguy
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