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3.28  ·  Rating details ·  410 ratings  ·  77 reviews
Set in 1920's New York City, this dazzling literary thriller by the bestselling author of Falling Angel combines pulse-racing action, a cast of famous historical characters, a brilliantly deranged serial killer, and visits from beyond the grave. ...more
Hardcover, 289 pages
Published October 1st 1994 by Grove Press
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Average rating 3.28  · 
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 ·  410 ratings  ·  77 reviews

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Glenn Russell

Harry Houdini and Arthur Conan Doyle team up to chase a serial killer committing murders based on the tales of Edgar Allan Poe. This is a literary novel meant to be enjoyed, really enjoyed.

Readers might be familiar with American author William Hjortsberg from his best-selling Falling Angel, a bloodcurdling, hard-boiled detective yarn turned neo-noir psychological horror film Angel Heart starring Mickey Rourke and Robert De Nero. Or, maybe, his other genre twisting novels such as Alp, Gray Matte
Deb Novack
When you have Houdini, Edgar Allen Poe and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle you are sure to get an awesome storyline and I was not disappointed. Sir Arthur and Houdini investigate the "Poe Murders". Both men think they will be victims so they join forces and the storyline follows them during their separate tour schedules. There are many tales along the way that are interwoven so well they all come together at the end. This is a well written and well thought out story with the characters completely believa ...more
Jul 02, 2012 rated it it was ok
Review: Nevermore by William Hjortsberg

Title: Nevermore
Author: William Hjortsberg
Publisher: Open Road
Publication Date: March 2012

Good Reads Synopsis
Why I Read It

I am always interested in anything related to Poe, Houdini, and somewhat intrigued by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. After perusing NetGalley's listings, I came across this novel by William Hjortsberg and decided it had to be worth the read. Poe, Houdini, and Doyle all in one. Had to be good.
Short Synopsis (no spoilers)

Murders begin piling up
Mae Clair
Jun 12, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I've long been fascinated by the Houdini/Conan Doyle relationship and also Houdini's zest for exposing fraud mediums, hence I couldn't wait to read this book. I can't say I was disappointed about the mystery and Houdini and Conan Doyle are well portrayed. The era itself is so fully fleshed out it feels like a character. The story moves along at a good clip with numerous twists and turns. Poe's ghost felt an odd fit and I could have done without the strange sex. Those two quibbles aside, I enjoye ...more
Tom Williams
Mar 15, 2012 rated it liked it
This is a murder mystery wrapped around an actual meeting between Harry Houdini and Arthur Conan Doyle.

Hjortsber has carefully researched this story. He has learned an awful lot about 1920s New York and no one could claim he wears his learning lightly. The opening of the novel bogs down again and again as irrelevant details of time and place are thrown in to demonstrate how thoroughly the era has been studied. Unfortunately, this information is seldom incorporated smoothly into the story. Write
C.C. Thomas
Apr 01, 2012 rated it liked it
What other book has a line-up like this? On first base, Harry Houdini; rounding third, Arthur Conan Doyle and batting on deck the ghost of Edgar Allen Poe. While my baseball lingo leaves a bit to be desired, this book is has a line-up most teams would bankrupt themselves for.

The main character is Harry Houdini. Yep, that Harry Houdini. Houdini, along with his friend Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (yep, that Conan Doyle), are on the case of a series of murders that mimic the mystery and horror stories of
 Reading Reindeer 2021 On Proxima Centauri
Apr 19, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Reading Reindeer 2021 On Proxima Centauri by: Great Minds Think Aloud
Shelves: april-2012-reads
“Nevermore” is a delightfully detailed historical mystery with paranormal and supernatural overtones. If you love history-if you love Sherlock Holmes-if you love magic and stage magicians-you must read “Nevermore.” Harry Houdini and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle; a magnetically lovely psychic adolescent who went from New England farm family to upscale wealthy New York Society; Houdini’s determination to prove all mediums are faux vs. Conan Doyle’s fascinated believe in the Other Side; all this combines ...more
Maybe you are a reader who enjoys flabby, tepid characterization served swimming in a thin and flavorless plot. Perhaps you are a literary epicure who appreciates a lagniappe of Harry Houdini getting a surprise ass-fuck from a carved ivory dildo filled with warm milk.

I'm not.
Jan 31, 2012 rated it it was ok
Shelves: pop-fiction
Decent airplane read; unfortunately I was not traveling. One mildly salacious sex scene. Houdini! Sir Arthur Conan Doyle! The ghost of Edgar Allan Poe! Early Jazz Age razz-ma-tazz. Macguffin.
Oct 15, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I liked this but not has much as I wanted to. I was fun seeing Arthur Conan Doyle and Harry Houdini interact, though I wish there had been more interaction. I liked the addition of Poe's ghost (who didn't know he was a ghost) but I wish he had played a more important role; I couldn't really figure out what his appearances added to Doyle's experience. I found it interesting that throughout the book, the narrator referred to Doyle and Houdini as the knight and the magician (respectively). What I d ...more
Betty Dickie
Nov 14, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Someone is killing people following Edgar Allan Poe's stories. Harry Houdini and Arthur Conan Doyle find themselves slowly becoming involved, including playing the victim role, until they ultimately solve the crime, and well, that would be telling to much. With a cast of characters including Damon Runyon, Mary Pickford and Douglas Fairbanks, Fanny Brice, and so on, this is a wonderful sampling of Poe and spiritualism and great writing. ...more
Alan Reese
May 09, 2020 rated it liked it
While not usually drawn to novels that appropriate historical figures as characters in major roles, I couldn't resist the combination of Harry Houdini and Conan Doyle embroiled in a series of murders based on Poe's stories with visitations from the dyspeptic ghost of Poe himself. Entertaining light reading which I am following up with a 500+ page biography of Rilke penned by a professor emeritus and tempering that with boxing essays by Katherine Dunn. ...more
Jan 11, 2021 rated it it was ok
Very, very rarely have I ever encountered a book as dreadfully boring and lacking in excitement as this one. If there were a contest to see who could produce the most boring piece of literature, this book would scare they rest of the contestants off before they even entered the thing.

I cannot in good conscience recommend it to anyone. I really, really tried to like it. It just wasn't worth it. So many good books, save yourself.
Other Voices
Jul 07, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
What a wonderful romp into the past!

The author kept me jumping - looking up words and names of things and places, forcing me to participate actively, rather than passively ... a gift I treasured throughout the reading.
Oct 18, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Everyone
Recommended to E by: Myself
“Nevermore . . . never grows heavy. In writing this fictionalized adventure of nonfiction characters, Mr. Hjortsberg was obviously out to have a good time. In the process of doing so, he has given his readers one as well.” —The New York Times

“Every good story needs a setup, and William Hjortsberg is his own Ed McMahon, an often brilliant master of the details of time and place that make his thrillers come to life.” —The Washington Times

“Hjortsberg has it, the kind of alchemy which transmutes c
Oana-Maria Uliu
Dec 29, 2018 rated it liked it
Too far-fetched and undeniably a show-off, yet entertaining enough.
Aug 28, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: kindle
I enjoyed the main storyline, but a couple of subplots felt out of place. Being a fan of Poe, I enjoyed the references to some lesser-known works. An easy mystery read.
Donald A. Buchanan
Great Fun

This was a lot of fun to read. The story held my interest to the very end. On second it.
Jul 20, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
To sum up this book I would say read it, drama feels real and to tell you the truth even though I know this is mystery it is still amazing.
Amy Cockram
Feb 03, 2017 rated it liked it
You can find more of my reviews at

I was loaned this book by a friend who knows that I am a bit of a Sherlock Holmes lover. I had it on my shelves for a while before needing to read it at speed and return it. At first it felt like a bit of a chore to read to a deadline, but actually I found it grabbed me enough to want to find out what happened. That said, I had a fractious relationship with this book and there were things that I liked and things that irritated me.

The boo
Apr 01, 2012 rated it really liked it
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and Harry Houdini team up to search for a literary-minded killer

It is 1923 and a beautiful young woman has just been found outside a tenement, bones crushed, head ripped from her shoulders. A few stories above, her squalid apartment has been ransacked, and twenty-dollar gold pieces litter the floor. The window frame is smashed. She seems to have been hurled from the building by a beast of impossible strength, and the only witness claims to have seen a long-armed ape fleein
Aug 28, 2016 rated it really liked it
The 1990's paperback version of Nevermore was clearly designed to resemble the paperback of The Alienist, Caleb Carr's riveting 1990's murder mystery set in New York that combined real people (most notably Teddy Roosevelt and William James) with fictional characters in pursuit of a serial killer. The interior front cover/two-page illustration actually seems to have come from the same photograph as the cover of The Alienist. Hmm.

The resemblance mostly ends there: Hjortsberg does combine fact and
Andre Farant
Mar 24, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Arthur Conan Doyle and Harry Houdini actually were good friends; Arthur Conan Doyle was an ardent believer in spiritualism and participated in countless séances; Harry Houdini was a famed debunker of psychics and mediums. It is upon the relationship between the two great men, and their differing views on the supernatural, that William Hjortsberg’s novel, Nevermore, is based.

In 1923, during Arthur Conan Doyle’s second American tour promoting spiritualism, he and Houdini are drawn into a series of
Apr 08, 2017 rated it liked it
One of those books that I very much *wanted* to love, but ended up only liking. Clearly Hjortsberg has done a lot of research on the luminaries and settings of the 1920s. There are a lot of familiar names here, particularly our two heroes, Arthur Conan Doyle and Harry Houdini.

Published in 1994 it presages some of the well regarded novels of the late 90s/early 2000s, such as The Adventures of Kavlier and Klay and Carter Beats The Devil, where you have a mix of real events, real people, and ficti
Karen Patterson
Apr 22, 2014 rated it liked it
This was an interesting concept and could have been a great book: Around early 1920's - Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and Harry Houdini both in New York with their wives and right in the midst of murders mirroring Edgar Allan Poe stories. Although I knew the author wove history with fiction, I had no idea that Doyle and Houdini were actually friends for a period of time back then so on a good note, I learned some history on both of those characters which I hadn't known before. During this story, Doyle ...more
Nevermore was pretty interesting. At first, it was hard to get into for me. The beginning is from a very minor character's perspective, which, to be quite honest with you, is dull. His perspective is very small in comparison to the other POVs in the story, and for me, it begs the question: why would Hjortsberg start the story with him, when he isn't really all that important? It's just odd.

The rest of the story moves along at a decent clip - the characterizations of Harry Houdini and Sir Arthur
Oct 26, 2013 rated it it was ok
i had high hopes for this one. sir arthur conan doyle and houdini team up to find & stop a murderous madman who is inspired by the works of edgar allan poe. sounded like it could be pretty good. boy, i was let down.
the best parts of the book are the ones that don't involve houdini and conan doyle, but instead feature damon runyon who is trying to get the scoop on the 'poe murders' and a desk sargeant called heegan that he inspires to take the initiative and do a little investigating on his own.
Lisa B.
Apr 02, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2012-books
I have mixed feelings about this book. It never really “hooked” me and I was probably 2/3 of the way through before it pulled together and become somewhat intriguing. I thought the author wrote eloquently, but there were parts of the story that just didn’t seem to add any value to the overall plot.
It seemed like Houdini and Conan Doyle spent a large part of the story going down separate paths. It wasn’t until that last 1/3 or so that the storyline really brought them together, and that is when t
Apr 11, 2012 rated it liked it
Nevermore opens with a double homicide in New York in 1923. This is followed by several more odd murders which seem to be based on the stories of Edgar Allen Poe.

This book has a great cast of real characters including Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Harry Houdini, and Damon Runyan whose use of period slang is hilarious. Edgar Allen Poe also appears although it is never clear whether he is a ghost, a bend in time, or perhaps one of Houdini's illusions.

There is a lot going on in this story: a little of th
Mar 21, 2012 rated it liked it
This is a fun period piece that takes place in the early 1900s, with comfortably familiar characters taking the lead roles in a chilling mystery. I enjoyed the quirky friendship between Houdini and Conan Doyle, especially since Conan Doyle is a true believer in mediums and ghosts, while Houdini is a famed debunker of same. Having Poe appear to Conan Doyle in ghostly form is a treat for those of us who love "gothic" literature. The murders based on Poe's famous stories were gruesome, yet not over ...more
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William Hjortsberg was an acclaimed author of novels and screenplays. Born in New York City, he attended college at Dartmouth and spent a year at the Yale School of Drama before leaving to become a writer. For the next few years he lived in the Caribbean and Europe, writing two unpublished novels, the second of which earned him a creative writing fellowship at Stanford University.

When his fellowsh

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