I have a few books to blog over the next few days, so let me start by saying a few things about Glen David Gold’s Carter Beats the Devil. This is a first novel and, judging from the acknowledgments, one that was originally conceived as part of a postgraduate programme in Creative Writing. It is an impressive debut and reads like the work of a much older and more experienced novelist. It is epic in its scope and has a strong historical reach. It is well-researched, brimming with social and cultural historical detail and is an entirely convincing narrative. The joins between historical fact and fictionalised history (or indeed speculation) are seamless, as fictional and historical characters mix and interact (including a couple of cameo appearances from Houdini!) and Gold writes with a mature authority. Its ambition is redolent of John Irving and Robertson Davies, I thought. Particularly impressive is his inside knowledge of the world of popular theatre and (specifically) magic during the so-called ‘Golden Age’. Thanks to Phill for recommending this.