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Fata Morgana

3.77  ·  Rating Details ·  260 Ratings  ·  22 Reviews
A blend of fantasy tale and hard-boiled detective story set in Paris in 1861 features a French police detective who sets out to investigate a conjurer whose fortune-telling machine is sweeping Paris. Reprint. NYT. IP.
Hardcover, 209 pages
Published January 1st 1977 by Alfred A. Knopf
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Oct 20, 2014 Algernon rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2014

Magic carpets to the stars, noble suckers, magic carpets for all!

Fata Morgana is a mirage, a trick of the light, a sleight of hand from a skilled magician that cons the audience into believing for a moment in the presence of supernatural forces. Yet, after the show, you go back to the real world and shake your head in wonder at how you've been played. The novel succeeds in creating this special atmosphere and maintaining an air of secrecy and ambiguousness, but for me it was just a step too cl
David DeValera
Feb 24, 2010 David DeValera rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Perhaps this is the story Sir Arthur Conan Doyle would have penned were he apprehended at a circus performance and dispatched straight to his typewriter. Fata Morgana is a solid mystery with fantasy elements that elevate it from sleuth versus villain into an enigmatic and elusive tale tinged with Gypsy mystery, parlor games and extortionist magic.

Inspector Picard, (career descending and body weight ascending), is on the trail of Ric Lazare who is bilking high-society members out of considerable
Ampat Varghese
Jul 30, 2011 Ampat Varghese rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
William Kotzwinkle’s Fata Morgana. I’m surprised because it reminds me that for 12 years I was trapped in Fata Morgana. Thank you, author of Doctor Rat, your other great book. Both books speak of the possibility of slipping into Fata Morgana, and then one becomes just like Doctor Rat or a Toy. The danger is when one starts believing that one can weave the Fata Morgana oneself. It is the ultimate Delusion of Grandeur. Or of Persecution.
Then, of course, it is a pleasure to follow Inspector Picard.
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
May 26, 2008 Maureen rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everyone
Shelves: novel
Probably the best known (and certainly best reviewed) of all Kotzwinkle's work, Fata Morgana is a detective story with a big slice of fantasy on the side. Set in Paris of 1861, there is a mysterious fortune telling machine, a beautiful woman who is bought and sold, and a sense of larger forces being at work. Highly recommended.
Grant Reynolds
Feb 22, 2013 Grant Reynolds rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I'm not going to lie, I 100% bought this book because of the cover. My local bookstore had a 1st edition in amazing shape from 1977 and I took a chance on it without really reading the description. What's not to like, mysterious shadowy man leering over a prone have naked woman in a giant moon mask. It's basically a detective story in Paris 1861 with the detective trying to build a case against a magician and his beautiful wife. Loved it! The characters were great, the feel & dialog acceptib ...more
Oct 28, 2011 Jane rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Kotzwinkle wrote The Bear That Went Over the Mountain (which was hysterically funny) and E.T. each a different style and this is yet another style. Set in Paris a Police Inspector who is not in the good graces of his department searches for the history of an obvious charlatan. He becomes obsessed and we are surprised (at least I think it would be we) at the surprising ending. The main character is really not very likable - insecure, overweight, fond of "loose women" and given to melancholy he fe ...more
Irving Karchmar
A really fascinating detective story set in Paris in the late 19th Century, with a mystical bent involving a fortune teller who is more than the charlatan he seems, and an exciting story. One of my favorite Kotzwinkle books, and I do hope a new generation discovers his novels and short fiction. He wrote the ET book after the movie came out, all from the alien's point of view, and it was the best of the genre of such movie tie-ins, a great fantasy story in its own right, and in some ways better a ...more
Jan 23, 2010 Meika rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I liked the style, the general tone of the writing was evocative of what I would think Paris was like in the 1800s. I liked the hard-boiled plot. The dark, Circus freak / Steampunk-ish setting was captivating.
When I got to the end, I felt like I'd been hit between the eyes with the ol' one-two (maybe I should've paid better attention; it is a detective novel after all). Also, despite the character development that explores Picard's appetites, I thought the way Kotzwinkle represented women was de
Jim Leckband
Jan 18, 2011 Jim Leckband rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
When I was in the middle of the book I was thinking "Yeah, I like it, but it just isn't stellar" because things weren't happening too fast and answers weren't coming. But then the ending came and it redeemed a lot of what I was feeling.

Pros: Very good on 19th Century Paris/Europe, Characters, fantastical plot grounded in "reality"
Cons: Plot has quite a lot of loose ends and unexplained things for a small book!
Jayaprakash Satyamurthy
An 18th-century policeman chases the trail of a mysterious occult conman (or is he?) across Europe. Along the way, there is much danger, deception, magic and mystification and a good deal of sex as well. There are some brilliant set-pieces, lots of picturesque minor characters, and a fascinating ride as the magician catches the policeman in his web, in a most unexpected manner.
May 24, 2009 Laurel rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I preferred The Fan Man, but it didn't keep me from enjoying this book of fantasy and magic. Everything was so vividly described that pictures just swam around in my head. I loved the ending.
Eric Hines
A very fine novel--kind of like Robertson Davies' World of Wonders meets Maigret in the 19th century.
Sep 05, 2008 Tony rated it really liked it
wonderful, 19th century detective story set in Paris and throughout Europe. this time around the always unpredictable Kotzwinkle is mystical, bawdy, and oh-so clever.
John Walsh
A seriously magical tale for adults, not as in soft-porn Anne Rice stuff, either.
Sep 02, 2012 Adrien rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Lovely, mysterious, mystical, romantic, and surprising
Nov 09, 2016 Bandit rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Neat serpentine puzzle of a novel. The title and cover drew me in, but Kotzwinkle did the rest with his lavishly atmospheric writing bringing the readers into the 19th century Europe in all of its decadent magical glory. If viewed from a detective chasing suspect story, it's a mystery. Different approach may reveal it to be an occult drama or drama of the occult. It's quite stunning to read, the opulence of costume balls, magicians,'s only the old trick ending (all that we see and ...more
Aug 24, 2013 George rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
Δεύτερο βιβλίο του Γουίλιαμ Κότζγουινκλ που διαβάζω, μετά το novelization της ταινίας Ε. Τ. ο εξωγήινος, του Στίβεν Σπίλμπεργκ, που σε γενικές γραμμές μου είχε φανεί μια χαρά, αλλά χωρίς παραπάνω πράγματα σε σχέση με την πολύ καλή ταινία. Ο συγγραφέας είναι γνωστός για την σειρά παιδικών βιβλίων Walter, the Farting Dog, αλλά και για κάποια ενδιαφέροντα μυθιστορήματα για ενήλικους, όπως το Doctor Rat, το The Fan Man και το The Bear Went Over the Mountain.

Το Φάτα Μοργκάνα συνδυάζει εξαιρετικά το
Pete Camp
Apr 19, 2014 Pete Camp rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Bawdy romp through Europe circa 1861. Follows inspector Picard as he tries to apprehend the elusive and mysterious Ric Lazare and solve the enigma of his fortune telling machine. Highly entertaining but a bit short with some loose ends not entirely cleared up.
Cl7ve rated it liked it
Sep 24, 2015
Earline Beebe
Earline Beebe rated it really liked it
Aug 04, 2010
Holly rated it liked it
Dec 12, 2008
Paul T
Paul T rated it really liked it
Aug 27, 2008
Tim NBD rated it it was amazing
Mar 29, 2012
Sean Mcguinn
Sean Mcguinn rated it liked it
Jan 29, 2014
Paul Kennedy
Paul Kennedy rated it really liked it
Aug 10, 2013
Sgt Pluck
Sgt Pluck rated it it was amazing
Oct 26, 2010
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Jan 21, 2017
Scott rated it really liked it
Sep 07, 2015
Keith Evans
Keith Evans rated it really liked it
Nov 20, 2012
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William Kotzwinkle is a two-time recipient of the National Magazine Award for Fiction, a winner of the World Fantasy Award, the Prix Litteraire des Bouquinistes des Quais de Paris, the PETA Award for Children's Books, and a Book Critics Circle award nominee. His work has been translated into dozens of languages.
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