William Hjortsberg, Author Atlantic Monthly Press $21 (289p) ISBN 978-0-87113-579-7
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. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 10/03/1994
Release date: 10/01/1994
Genre: Fiction
Analog Audio Cassette - 978-1-57121-012-8
Mass Market Paperbound - 978-0-312-95695-0
Ebook - 308 pages - 978-1-4532-4659-7
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