Sean Maher's Quality Control

Monday, September 12, 2005

Nevermore: For those of y'all who liked LOEG...

So, a while back I'm hanging out at the Isotope chatting with my good amigo Joe Keatinge and I ask him about the last good book he read. Turns out it was Falling Angel by William Hjortsberg, a pulpy novel about a detective investigating some cultish murders and finding himself falling deeper and deeper into the mystery. Lots of smart writing, dark plotting and one of the best surprise endings I've read in recent memory.

So, Joe, check this out. Last week I started reading another Hjortsberg book. It's called Nevermore, and this one's about Harry Houdini and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle teaming up to solve a series of murders that mimic the grisly tales of Edgar Allan Poe.

I'm only about a third of the way through it - reading a couple other books at the same time, and I'm a slow reader - but so far it's really fun. The opening chapter, which takes us through an ominous performance of one of Houdini's great tricks, is worth the price of admission alone. And since this is a pulp novel by an obscure author and out of print, that price is mighty low - you can buy this for a penny at Amazon.

The characterization is really sharp; Houdini's a blustering, aging showman, on a campaign against those who profess supernatural powers, proving again and again what frauds they are, and during their acts. He's infuriated by their dishonest presentation, their pretending to connect to forces beyond the physical realm. "Not so very different from what you've been doing all these years," his wife kids. "I never claimed to be a supernatural," is Houdini's reply. "Everybody knows what I do are tricks." It's a cool take on the character, and creates an interesting role for him in the book.

(Between this, and the story about Houdini in Jason Lutes' stunning Berlin, I've really gotta do some more reading about the world's greatets escape artist.)

As a concept, I really, really enjoy making fictional characters out of historical figures. It economizes the storytelling really well, and it builds on feelings and thoughts the reader already has. I'm a big sucker for folks who take something legendary in some way and make it real, make it personal. Eric Powell's recent Billy the Kid miniseries did this just a little bit, too.

Spend the penny on Nevermore; it's fun reading.


  • At 9:41 PM, Blogger Joe Keatinge said…

    Sheesh - that WAS awhile ago.

    In any case, thanks for the reccomendation. I'll give it a look see.


Post a Comment

<< Home

FREE hit counter and Internet traffic statistics from