Carter Beats the DevilMisdirection is a form of deception in which the attention of an audience is focused on one thing in order to distract its attention from another.

Phil: I’ve just finished reading a rather fabulous book: Carter Beats the Devil by Glen David Gould. Whilst a fat novel at 560 pages, the story zips along at pace and there are plenty of twists and turns to keep the reader going through a whopping 270,000 words. That’s a lot for a first novel, Kate vs The Dirtboffins is a more normal 80,000.

The story revolves around Charles Carter who performs magic under the title “Carter the Great”. Set after WW1, it’s a historical novel with plenty of real elements to the real story. Houdini makes an appearance, indeed at one point the plot pivots on his actions as do several other real people. Many of the illusions described are accurate too, all of which adds up to making the plot, revolving around the assassination of a US President and an important secret, much more plausible.

All of this would fall apart if it weren’t for the intricate plotting. I have a feeling that somewhere there is, or at least was, a meticulous plan showing where people needed to be and tracking the threads of the story. Appropriately for a novel full of conjuring, there’s also a bit of misdirection going on. We read about things happening that at first appear perfectly normal, but later turn out to have another side to them such as the apparently random chosing of one character to assist in a plot. Later it turns out that the choice wasn’t so random and set in train a series of events that had you realised what was going on, would have removed the element of surprise.

It’s making me think about our plot a little. We’ve got one character who certainly isn’t what they appear to be and another who may well be innocent but then you wonder if they are guilty. Running at the same time, you are looking one way when perhaps you should be noticing something else. Of course, if you did that, we wouldn’t have our, “Tadaa!” moment would we?


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Filed under Books, Phil, Writing

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