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Nevermore: A Novel [Kindle Edition]

William Hjortsberg
3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (36 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and Harry Houdini team up to search for a literary-minded killer

It is 1923 and a beautiful young woman has just been found outside a tenement, bones crushed, head ripped from her shoulders. A few stories above, her squalid apartment has been ransacked, and twenty-dollar gold pieces litter the floor. The window frame is smashed. She seems to have been hurled from the building by a beast of impossible strength, and the only witness claims to have seen a long-armed ape fleeing the scene. The police are baffled, but one reporter recognizes the author of the bloody crime: the long-dead Edgar Allan Poe.
 
A psychopath is haunting New York City, imitating the murders that made Poe’s stories so famous. To Harry Houdini and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, the killing spree is of purely academic interest. But when Poe’s ghost appears in Doyle’s hotel room, the writer and the magician begin to suspect that the murders may hold a clue to understanding death itself.
 
This ebook features an illustrated biography of William Hjortsberg including rare photos from the author’s personal collection.

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Editorial Reviews

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.

From Library Journal

Harry Houdini and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle join forces in this historical mystery with occult overtones. In his later years, Doyle has become a true believer in mediums who speak with the spirits of the dead. Houdini, as a master of illusion, takes pride in exposing and debunking such fraudulent people. Despite their opposing views, a mutual interest in the occult draws them together in a respectful friendship. When murders patterned after the tales of Edgar Allan Poe begin to occur, Houdini and Doyle are as fascinated as the rest of the citizens of New York. When they discover that all the victims have a distant relationship to Houdini, they decide to work together to solve the mystery. Nevermore is an enjoyable though sometimes gruesome adventure that is much enhanced by the author's use of the many details behind Houdini's amazing escapes and magic tricks. For popular collections.
--A.M.B. Amantia, Population Action International, Washington,
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Product Details

  • File Size: 548 KB
  • Publisher: Open Road Media (March 13, 2012)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B007AUXR9O
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
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  • Lending: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #320,735 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
19 of 20 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
I'd recently read a history of Houdini that described his friendship with Arthur Conan Doyle. The book literally takes the real facts of that friendship and moves them into a fiction--a mystery that entwines fictional and metaphysical situations to create a Sherlockian, theosophian enterprise in the spirit of other books that try to continue the Holmesian tradition, but this time with its author cast as the main detective.
The book takes awhile to pull all its threads together, so patience is required. But, the prose when not presenting dialogue offers a nice change from the usual mimicry of this time period and adds a new touch here and there. Certainly moments when Victorian discretion is not a bother!
As I post this, there are other personal reviews, pro and con, plus a published review that mentions a flat ending. I definitely had to go find my 'complete Poe' to get the last allusion to his work, which wasn't a problem with the other situations in the story that referred to his stories. Somehow, I don't think the image chosen was really thought through beyond its utility to link one used in a Poe story with the real-life situation of Houdini's watery death. But this death isn't part of the story (still a future event). How Doyle's gesture might help, much less what the last warnings of Poe's ghost meant, present confusion.
Perhaps this was an attempt to end this novel like Poe's writings--after everything is explicated, the introduction of a surrealistic image that leaves the reader smack back in the unknown and now left to his/her own devices for figuring how to get out of it. Or...it just could be a case of an author who is also a movie writer, forgetting that he needs a more complete ending, since it's not likely there's going to be a "sequel."
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Will make a decent movie - shame it's a novel. March 15, 2012
Format:Paperback
This is a murder mystery wrapped around an actual meeting between Harry Houdini and Arthur Conan Doyle.

Hjortsber has carefully researched this story. He has learned an awful lot about 1920s New York and no one could claim he wears his learning lightly. The opening of the novel bogs down again and again as irrelevant details of time and place are thrown in to demonstrate how thoroughly the era has been studied. Unfortunately, this information is seldom incorporated smoothly into the story. Writers sometimes joke about "As you know, Jim," conversations where one character tells another stuff that they obviously both already know, simply in order to convey this information to the reader. Yet here Arthur Conan Doyle actually starts one comment with, "Well, as you all must know..." Such clunky intrusions of background mean that, despite the superfluous detail, there is little real feel for the period coming through. It's also unfortunate that there are occasional mistakes. The statue of Eros in Piccadilly Circus - surely quite a well-known landmark even to Americans - is described as a fountain, which it is not and never has been. Cigarettes are referred to as coffin nails, which is unlikely in the 1920s, when they were often advertised as a healthy diet aid.

Hjortsber is a successful screenwriter and this novel reads as if it is a film script that didn't make it to the screen. If it were a script, the vast amounts of historical detail would be covered with a few sweeping shots of New York in 1923. We could then cut straight to the plot, which - once it gets going - is quite entertaining. It's a mix of ghost story, historical novel and detective thriller. Again, the mix of genres would probably work better on film than on the printed page.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Literary Triple Play April 10, 2012
Format:Paperback
What other book has a line-up like this? On first base, Harry Houdini; rounding third, Arthur Conan Doyle and batting on deck the ghost of Edgar Allen Poe. While my baseball lingo leaves a bit to be desired, this book is has a line-up most teams would bankrupt themselves for.

The main character is Harry Houdini. Yep, that Harry Houdini. Houdini, along with his friend Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (yep, that Conan Doyle), are on the case of a series of murders that mimic the mystery and horror stories of Edgar Allen Poe. While Houdini makes one mean detective, Doyle has a bit of an inside track when the ghost of Edgar Allen Poe mysteriously visits him and gives him some elusive hints about solving the murders.

Much of this story is based on actual historic fact (such as the magic of Houdini and his tricks; Houdini's debunking of mysticism; the popularity of Doyle and Mrs. Doyle conducting seances) and it was these facts that made the book so very appealing to me. I loved delving into the part of the book and that period is just plain fascinating. To read a book told through Houdini's, Doyle's and Poe's eyes was the most creative idea I've seen come along in a long time--pure brilliance!

If only the author would have stayed on that track instead of veering off into a fantasy that I didn't enjoy and didn't think the story needed. Part way through, Houdini becomes romantically linked with a woman who stalks him into submission and doesn't really add to the mystery at all. If the book would just totally leave out that whole character, it would be amazing. The plot idea and writing was so strong, so captivating.....

As it was, still an enjoyable read but falls short of a home run.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars A great and varied cast of characters.
This book has a lot going for it: real, historical characters and setting, suspenseful, well thought out pacing, and more than a hint of the supernatural. Read more
Published 1 month ago by steve A
3.0 out of 5 stars good fantacy
Good read with historical characters doing their thing. A page turner with lots of twists and turns. Keeps you guessing till the end.
Published 4 months ago by Michael Heath
5.0 out of 5 stars Historical terror
"Nevermore" is an historical thriller with four historical characters, Edgar Allen Poe, Houdini, Oscar Wilde, and Connan-Doyle. Read more
Published 5 months ago by Shirely A. Owens
2.0 out of 5 stars Interesting plot, but
The premise was interesting. The dialog was meant to sound appropriate for the era and characters, but rings false somehow.
Published 8 months ago by Elisabeth G. Hershey
4.0 out of 5 stars I recommend
Not a perfect book, but a solid premise and good historical fiction. It was interesting to see the author develop conflict within both Houdini and Doyle. Read more
Published 8 months ago by Rachel Brooks
3.0 out of 5 stars I was conned.
This was a story that promised so much. I would have happily given the book five stars if it had sustained its level of quality to the end. Read more
Published 8 months ago by Dr. Lynn
3.0 out of 5 stars Description better than execution
Feel like this is a book of red-herrings. Should have been a lot easier to read, but feel like there was too much going on and none of it fully fleshed out.
Published 10 months ago by Kathi Koenig
4.0 out of 5 stars Spooks, Gumshoes & Magic
NEVERMORE, William Hjortsberg
A review by
Robert Dickhoff Jr

A complex, detailed plot that moves along chapter to chapter, with intriguing characters based... Read more
Published 10 months ago by Robert Dickhoff Jr
3.0 out of 5 stars Not sure how the plot was progressing
I bought this book since I am a fan of Houdini and thought it would be interesting to read about him and also have a mystery involved. Read more
Published 10 months ago by TanyaOkemos
4.0 out of 5 stars Fantasy with a strong factual foundation
This well-researched fantasy painted vivid portraits of both the real-life characters and the era.

I have to confess, though, that I ended up Googling the Poe work... Read more
Published 10 months ago by Elisa Eiger
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