While a killer recreates grisly scenes from the pages of Edgar Allen Poe in 1920s New York, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle is haunted by Poe's ghost, and Harry Houdini falls in love with a beautiful clairvoyant. 75,000 first printing.
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A carefully researched thriller that provides many fascinating details about celebrities of the Jazz Age but fails miserably and completely to provide any suspense. The novel has three protagonists: Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, the British creator of Sherlock Holmes, who is on a US tour to promote the spiritualist practices in which he ardently believes; Harry Houdini, the masterful escape artist, magician, and debunker of mediums; and Mrs. Opal Fletcher, a.k.a. Isis, a wealthy widow and clairvoyant to the elite. Doyle and Houdini are great friends and together resolve to find the serial murderer who patterns his killings on the grisliest death described in the fiction of Edgar Allan Poe. But Hjortsberg is not interested in spinning a good detective yarn. He hardly ever shows the pair sleuthing, and when he does, their efforts seem elementary and uninspired. Even Poe's ghost, who appears to Doyle regularly, can't get the men out of their easy chairs and into some serious action--physical or mental. It doesn't help that the author can't decide who the real hero of the story is; both men seem equally inept, while the murderer is determined, methodical, and obvious to the reader from the start. Houdini's love affair with Isis starts off titillatingly (she uses an ivory dildo filled with warm milk to bring him to a heightened, prolonged orgasm) but withers almost immediately, since the author denies him any sense of involvement with the woman or their child. All the characters wander through this fact-filled, name-dropping plot in a stupor, as if they--like the killer's victims--had chloroformed bags pulled over their heads. Hjortsberg is the author of seven previous novels (Falling Angel, 1978, etc.) and a number of screenplays. Practice does not always make perfect. (First printing of 75,000; $65,000 ad/promo) -- Copyright ©1994, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.From Publishers Weekly:
Set in 1923 in New York City, this droll and captivating fantasy-part gothic mystery, part Who's Who of the Jazz Age, part Perils of Pauline-reads like a collaboration between Mary Roberts Rinehart and Dorothy Parker. Fancifully peopled with the ghost of Edgar Allen Poe, famous personages (Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Harry Houdini, Damon Runyon) and a supporting cast of thousands, the action turns merrily around the Victorian obsession with spiritualism and its vestigial carryover into the Flapper Era. The narrative involves a series of Ripperlike murders that recreate the macabre stories of Poe. Touring the U.S. as advocates of spiritualism, Sir Arthur and Lady Jean Doyle are reunited with Harry and Bess Houdini, friends since the magician's 1920 tour of Great Britain, where he indulged his passion for debunking spirit mediums. Though both Conan Doyle and Houdini are drawn against their wills into the furor created by the bizarre killings, and though both wind up being stalked by the killer, they find their warm if oddly antipathetic camaraderie strained when Houdini ridicules a private seance given him by Lady Jean. Meanwhile, atop the list of suspects stands the enigmatic Isis, a sexy clairvoyant who also has suffered at the hands of the cavalier Houdini. Hjortsberg keeps matters moving briskly throughout this entertaining thriller, which, with its stellar characters and outlandish plot, could turn out to be his most popular novel since Falling Angel.
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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Descripción Atlantic Monthly Pr, 1994. Hardcover. Estado de conservación: New. book. Nº de ref. de la librería 0871135795
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