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The Girl in the Glass

3.70  ·  Rating Details  ·  701 Ratings  ·  106 Reviews
The Great Depression has bound a nation in despair -- and only a privileged few have risen above it: the exorbitantly wealthy ... and the hucksters who feed upon them. Diego, a seventeen-year-old illegal Mexican immigrant, owes his salvation to master grifter Thomas Schell. Together with Schell's gruff and powerful partner, they sail comfortably through hard times, scammin ...more
Paperback, 304 pages
Published August 16th 2005 by William Morrow Paperbacks (first published August 1st 2005)
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Affinity by Sarah WatersThe Seance by John HarwoodThings Half in Shadow by Alan FinnThe House of Velvet and Glass by Katherine HoweThe Mesmerist by Barbara Ewing
Victorian Spiritualism Fiction
15th out of 102 books — 35 voters
The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne FrankThe Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg LarssonThe Girl Who Played with Fire by Stieg LarssonGirl With a Pearl Earring by Tracy ChevalierThe Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest by Stieg Larsson
Books with 'Girl' in the title
167th out of 582 books — 76 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 1,666)
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Will Byrnes
Nov 02, 2008 Will Byrnes rated it it was ok
Set in Depression New York, mostly Long Island, a group of scam artists exploits the sorrow and foolishness of the rich, pretending to speak to the “other side” so that they might communicate with departed loved ones. All is well until the chief of the operation sees what may be a real ghost, that of a missing child. There are fun characters, untroubled by excessive complexity, plenty of action sequences, a slight bit of payload re the scams, and what seemed to me a strained attempt to fill this ...more
Jul 27, 2010 Sarah rated it really liked it
I read my first Ford short story online a few months ago, followed by a couple that I found in anthologies. A few weeks ago I followed that up with one of his story collections, followed immediately by this novel. I thought the stories were excellent, but they did not prepare me for this lovely novel. The prose feels effortless, which takes a lot of effort on the author's part.
The book is set on Long Island in the 1930s, and the setting feels authentic. The characters are well developed and fee
Oct 03, 2007 Rick rated it it was amazing
In Jeffrey Ford's The Girl in the Glass, reality is a con, at least according to illegal Mexican immigrant Diego, his foster father Thomas Schell, and ex-circus strongman Antony Cleopatra. In 1932 Long Island, this diverse trio of confidence men pose as a team of spiritual mediums. Their marks are the city's naive wealthy. During a séance, the group's leader, Schell, experiences a ghastly vision of a murdered young girl, and even though it could destroy their livelihood, he decides to use their ...more
An unusual story with a carnival cast of characters; the story line contains both the fantastic and the mundane, happily entwined. Our good guys are con men who run fake seances for the rich and muddled. It is depression time in the U.S. but our "spiritualists" including Ondoo the swami, are doing well. But something unusual happens during one of the seances which leads our good guys to running cons in the search for a missing little girl. Our bad guys reflect some shameful people and ideas; the ...more
Mar 06, 2011 Rusty rated it really liked it
A group of scam artists help a man whose young daughter has disappeared - FREE! Even free help has problens as the group discovers his daughter was murdered and more murders occur. It was such a good read! The author did very nice research including the activity of the Ku Klux Klan in the Long Island area, the role of scam artists and spiritualists during the 1930s, the Repatriotism of Mexicans during the depression and other topics. This story was original and exciting. I commend Jeffrey Ford f ...more
Aug 07, 2008 Becky rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: anyone
Jeffrey Ford is a genius. One of the best writers alive today. I can't say it enough!

The Girl in the Glass takes place in Depression-era New York, where con man Schell and his team (teenaged illegal Mexican immigrant Diego and strongman Antony Cleopatra) make a living bilking the "true believer" rich folks to want to make contact with the dead.

One night, during a routine seance, Schell unexpectedly sees something he and his team didn't rig up beforehand -- the ghost of a little girl. Schell, wh
Timothy Hallinan
Aug 31, 2012 Timothy Hallinan rated it it was amazing
This wonderful book was pressed upon me by an employee in one of the bookstores I signed in earlier this year, and many, many thanks are due.

It's a tale set in the 1930s, during the long stupidity of prohibition, about three con artists whose specialty is seances, and their encounter with what just might be a real ghost that, in turn, leads them into exploring a particularly heinous murder. I loved this book, which won an Edgar in 2005 for best paperback original, and promptly went out and boug
Aug 26, 2014 Aaron rated it it was amazing
This is almost more of a mystery/thriller novel than an SF/fantasy novel, since the supernatural elements are all susceptible to rational explanation. It's a gripping read, though. I think this would have been a better choice for the 2007 Nebula Award than Seeker.
Mar 25, 2016 Ladory rated it really liked it
I got this book either free or very inexpensively on my kindle. Once I load a book on, I no longer have any idea what it's about since I can't see reviewers' comments, etc. on front pages. But the title sounded good when I was ready to start a new book out of a huge library stored on my kindle.

This book is narrated by a 17-year-old Mexican orphan in about 1932. It starts with a seance to contact a dead loved one for a client of the man who has taken in the orphan. The foster parent is a con man.
Becky Frost
Apr 02, 2016 Becky Frost rated it really liked it
On the surface, this book seems like such a simple story, but it really has layers of complexity that still makes me think about which parts were the truth and which parts were the con. I liked this book because it is so different from all the other stories that seem to be the mainstream right now. Our hero is a teenager, yes, but he is not out to save the whole world. He sees the monster and he wants to live making his part of the world a little less scary from that monster. I like that this st ...more
Jan 12, 2015 Clarice rated it it was ok
I chose this book because of the time-period and the subject of spiritualism which was still having it's hay-day during the early 1930's.

The three main characters were likable, although not very fleshed out, and a there was a cast of potentially interesting supporting characters who were not developed at all.

The book is divided into short, cleverly-titled chapters. The plot initially moved along at steady, pleasant and believable pace. Then it suddenly turned into a cartoonish action/adventure
Beth Roberts
This book came out of left field for me. I love books about seances and the spiritualist movement that took place in the early part of the twentieth century, the lengths people will go to in an attempt to re-connect with lost loved ones and the inventive scams people came up with to bilk people out of their money to do so.

Last year, I was excited to read Things Half in Shadow. Ultimately, it was a disappointing and dry read for me. So, with hesitation, I picked up The Girl in the Glass when it w
Bob Mustin
Jul 01, 2012 Bob Mustin rated it really liked it
A friend who had become interested in a genre novel of mine, began singing the praises Ford’s novels, and mostly out of politeness, I decided to download one of his novels as an e-book and give it a read. I’m glad I did.

There’s nothing literarily splendid about Ford’s prose, but then I doubt such was intended. Instead Ford is a spellbinding story teller. His prose, while somewhat generic, flows like butter, and you can’t help but turn page after page. there is a wink and a nod to postmodern sens
Jan 21, 2011 Morgan rated it it was amazing
As he has done times before, Jeffrey Ford has captured my attention and my heart. This novel is captivating on all levels. The characters are deep, real, and full of life. The plot is well paced, the themes heartbreaking and hopeful, and the motifs, well, blue morpho? monarch? white pine? anybody? yeah, they are there too.

If you are familiar with Fords work, then you know what to expect. If your not, then you are in for a treat. Ford's words flow like a stream off of the page. He is simple to re
Jan 04, 2012 Alyse rated it liked it
This book is set in the 20's and 30's about a group of con-men doing "seance" sessions and contacting the "other side." Taking place during the Great Depression, the cons trick their "marks" into believing they truly are receiving messages from passed loved ones, etc. Until they get involved in a con that nearly claims all their lives and puts them on the tracks of a mad scientist doing horrific human experimentation. Solving murder, rescuing friends, romance and tricking the nations wealthiest ...more
Jen Phillips
Mar 25, 2007 Jen Phillips rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: mystery, ghost, circus freak and sheister fans
This review explains all the reasons why I loved this book:

Ford's fascinating literary thriller tells the story of an orphan's career as Ondoo, a phony mystic. He is really Diego, a Mexican and part of a trio staging seances for the gullible grieving of Long Island's Gold Coast, where in 1932 you'd never know the Great Depression is raging. Besides whacked-out humor and compelling suspense, there is sentiment among the thieves in the novel, and all those qualities make it hard to put down. After
Jan 31, 2013 Stevedutch rated it really liked it
This is the story of three con men working the rich but gullible in the depression years of 1930s Long Island: it is told through the eyes of seventeen year old Diego who, along with his mentor Schell and sidekick/bodyguard Anthony, provide séances to contact their recently departed loved and not so loved ones. During a routine scam in some millionaire’s mansion Schell actually does see the ‘ghost’ of a girl gone recently missing and puts their ‘normal’ work schedule on hold while he and his two ...more
Año 1932, en plena Depresión. Los pobres son más pobres y los ricos más ricos. Muchos de estos ricos están interesados en el mundo espiritual, en contactar con sus seres queridos en el más allá. Y aquí entran en juego Shell (timador ingenioso donde los haya), Anthony Cleopatra (guardaespaldas, chófer y trabajos varios) y Diego, nuestro joven protagonista y narrador de los hechos muchos años después, un mexicano de diecisiete años que acogió Shell como discípulo. Durante una de estas sesiones-tim ...more
Jul 07, 2011 Stephanie rated it liked it
3.5--This story sucked me right in. The story is told by Diego, a 17-year-old illegal Mexican immigrant, in 1932 New York. He works with two other con men (Schell and Antony), holding seances for (and at the expense of) grieving wealthy clients. Then, during one of these seances, Schell (the boss) sees the image of a girl in a pane of glass. A supenseful page-turner. I would have given it a 4, except 1)Antony's favorite swear word, while no doubt accurately used, got a little tiresome after a wh ...more
Middle of the road effort by Mr. Ford. Enjoyable, if a bit over-long for what story he has to share, but there isn't much meat on the bone.

Depression Era hucksters is a storyline that was old by the end of the thirties (in both film and well as non-fiction) and the old bones are here but given a long tongue.

Recommended for Ford fanboys and those interested in grifter fiction.

Rating 3 out of 5 stars.
Apr 30, 2016 Jellicle rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: loved-it
Set in 1932 between the depression and WWII, this book features an unusual cast of characters from con men to circus freaks. A con artist, who makes a living preying on the wealthy bereaved by staging fake seances, attempts to solve the murder of a client's young daughter and becomes caught in the crossfire of a much bigger plot. I loved the characters, the telling from the point of view of the con artist. The mystery was complex enough to keep me guessing. The characters are so good, I wish thi ...more
Jo Wilkinson
Apr 27, 2016 Jo Wilkinson rated it really liked it
The story of a conman and his "adopted" son and bodyguard/friend and their schemes in the time of spiritualism in the U.S., forced repatriation of Mexicans and the horrible Eugenics movement. The love and affection among this ad hoc family feels modern, but it is a period piece and evokes a simpler and more naive time. Lovely writing. I'd give it 4 1/2 stars and plan to search out more by this author.
Jan 10, 2009 Kendra rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: guys-guys
Recommended to Kendra by: Jonathan Carroll by way of his review on the back cover
Another book set in Depression-era America. Though the characters are so difficult to relate to in any sense of my known world, that I can barely find hints of it in the book!

That being said, for a book about con men, it's actually a decent storyline centered around the Eugenics Record Office's potential links to the KKK and the like. (It is hypothesized that Hitler's memorandum, of sorts, was adopted in the U.S. through this office's underground experimentation.)

I didn't dislike the characters,
Ana Pereira r
Dec 05, 2014 Ana Pereira r rated it really liked it
Loved this story. The book had many funny, interesting and suspense filled moments lived through the actions of characters I fell in love with and who I'll never forget and will truly miss. I borrowed the book from a friend and it came in a moment of my life when I really needed it without knowing and can't help but feel bittersweet at the end.
Jun 01, 2008 E rated it liked it
Recommends it for: folks wanting a light, colorful read
This would be a great beach read and make a good movie, with its circus-like cast of characters, colorful plot, and setting in New York & environs in the 1930s with seances, aristocrats, and bootleggers to boot. Following a kind of "don't bullshit a bullshitter" plot, things turn serious for the main male threesome when one of their mendacious seance productions brings them into contact with the reflection of a "girl in the glass" who turns out to have been murdered, sending them on a who-du ...more
May 01, 2016 Greg rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Who cons who?

Intriguing reading with a plot impossible to guess. For me, this was a subject new and fascinating, twisted in with questions about a way of life that I can only wonder about. This sparks the curiosity of the little understood work of the con artist.
Gerri Leen
Jul 24, 2010 Gerri Leen rated it liked it
Oh, how to rate this one? The meat of the story, the main ride, is just utterly delightful. Sort of Damon Runyon-esque, sort of The Sting, all very fun and very touching and at times scary. But the meat of this is bookended by both a start that never is addressed again and an ending that left me saying, "I went through all that for THIS?" If I were going to make this perfect, I'd say, skip the first bit (if you tend to be like me, and remember set-ups and wait for them to be fulfilled or at leas ...more
Maureen Mullis
Started this book, but a little way into it I knew I wasn't captivated. I couldn't really say why I didn't like it; it was an Edgar Award winner. I guess it's just not my cup of tea.
Jun 24, 2007 Jennifer rated it really liked it
1932 Long Island. 3 con men hold séances for rich folks: Schell, the leader; Diego, a 17 year old Mexican and narrator of the story who poses as Odoo, the Indian Mystic; and Antony, the big man, body guard and chauffeur. All is great in their world until during a séance, Schell sees the image of a girl in a pane of glass. The next day, he sees a photo of the same girl in the paper: she’s gone missing. The three set out to find her and get drawn into a very tangled web indeed. Throw in moths, the ...more
Julie Heintzelman
Mar 18, 2016 Julie Heintzelman rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Not a bad book. Based in 1935 America. Con men trying to survive the depression and end up getting involved in a murder case and ultimately end up solving the mystery. It was different than most books I read but interesting all the same.
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Endicott Mythic F...: The Girl in the Glass: A Novel - Q&A with Jeffrey Ford 8 27 Aug 02, 2010 09:04PM  
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Jeffrey Ford is an American writer in the Fantastic genre tradition, although his works have spanned genres including Fantasy, Science Fiction and Mystery. His work is characterized by a sweeping imaginative power, humor, literary allusion, and a fascination with tales told within tales. He is a graduate of the State University of New York at Binghamton, where he studied with the novelist John Gar ...more
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“To our benefit, death isn't affected by an economic failure, and it never takes a holiday. In addition, a bereaved rich man is easier to con than a poor one in the same condition. A poor man, straightaway, understands death to be inevitable, but it takes a rich man some time to see that the end can't be circumvented with the application of enough collateral.” 6 likes
“He was a good con man, but not a great con man. He wasn't ruthless enough. He had all the tricks, all the techniques, the facility for it. That part if you'll excuse the expression, was in his blood. But he never really had the heart for it.” 5 likes
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