Yesterday, Film School Rejects learned that Glen David Gold’s critically-acclaimed debut novel Carter Beats the Devil has been optioned by Warner Brothers. The novel, which is a fictionalized account of the life of magician Charles Carter, weaves a number of historical events, including the death of President Warren G. Harding, into a sweeping narrative that is part mystery and part real life examination of magic acts from the turn-of-the-century.

For more information on the plot, here is a snippet of a review of the book from

Gold’s debut novel opens with real-life magician Charles Carter executing a particularly grisly trick, using President Warren G. Harding as a volunteer. Shortly afterwards, Harding dies mysteriously in his San Francisco hotel room, and Carter is forced to flee the country. Or does he? It’s only the first of many misdirections in a magical performance by Gold. In the course of subsequent pages, Carter finds himself pursued by the most hapless of FBI agents; falls in love with a beautiful, outspoken blind woman; and confronts an old nemesis bent on destroying him. Throw in countless stunning (and historically accurate) illusions, some beautifully rendered period detail, and historical figures like young inventor Philo T. Farnsworth and self-made millionaire Francis “Borax” Smith, and you have old-fashioned entertainment executed with a decidedly modern sensibility.

The first thing I thought of when reading the description for Carter Beats the Devil was Christopher Priest’s excellent novel, The Prestige (which was turned into an even more excellent 2006 film by director Christopher Nolan). Of course, Carter Beats the Devil doesn’t share any of the science-fiction elements of The Prestige, so that’s probably the wrong comparison to make.

In any case, I’m a sucker for good historical fiction, so although I have not personally read Carter Beats the Devil, I could definitely see picking it up. Don’t ask me why, but there’s something about turn-of-the-century magicians that is just fascinating.

Have you read Carter Beats the Devil? If so, what do you think of it possibly being turned into a film? If you haven’t read it, what do you think of the story? Does it sound interesting?

Source: Film School Rejects