Stringy's Reviews > Carter Beats The Devil

Carter Beats The Devil by Glen David Gold
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's review
Nov 02, 2009

really liked it
Recommended to Stringy by: Wendy
Read in October, 2009 — I own a copy

This page-turner has something for everyone. Thrill as Carter escapes a deadly trap set by Secret Service agents! Sigh as he woos a mysterious blind girl! Ponder the question of whether he murdered the President or not! Marvel at the new technology he (and the military, and the RCA) covets! Contemplate his loneliness and wonder if his renewed hope for the future will be squashed by the unfairness of everyday life!

It reminded me a bit of Sayers' Gaudy Night, actually - not that the setting has anything much in common with it, other than having the main action set in the inter-war period. But in both novels, solving the mystery requires you to pay attention to character details as well as clues, and the resolution has something to say about how we live our lives.

Gold plays fair with his clues, and blends literary skill with an ingenious plot. I was surprised by the ending, but it not only fits the facts together neatly, it *feels* right. I'm going to re-read through the present-day parts to catch all the foreshadowing and clues again. I particularly liked his hapless Secret Service agent, Griffin, and the dastardly Mysterioso. Carter himself is a well-rounded and believable character, although I found Annabelle a little plot-device-y (but fun!).

I could have done with less period detail, though. I'm usually happy with a more impressionist view than exact verisimilitude. By the end of the book you could probably draw a pretty accurate map of San Francisco and Oakland, although Gold playfully changes the historical details for the sake of plot. I checked Wikipedia just in case Pres. Harding did appear in a magic show - alas, it was a change :) However, your mileage may vary: if detail's your thing, you won't find better than this.

It did make me want to get hold of the biography of the real Carter the Great, although the price on Amazon ($535 new! $630 used!) has put me off just a little.

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Comments <span class="smallText"> (showing 1-2 of 2) </span> <span class="smallText">(2 new)</span>

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message 1: by Stephanie (new)

Stephanie I have been looking for some inter-war priod stuff, and any reminder of Sayers is a good thing in my opinion!

Stringy Excellent! Although the comparison might only be in my mind :) This is very vaudeville, Jazz age, and American. But I think Wimsey would have figured Carter out in a jiffy with his intuitive style of sluething.

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