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The Girl in the Glass: A Novel Paperback – August 16, 2005

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 286 pages
  • Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks; First Edition edition (August 16, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060936193
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060936198
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 0.7 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (23 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,514,101 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

A band of con artists–cum–spiritual mediums focus their psychic and sleuthing powers on a murder mystery in Ford's offbeat, thoroughly researched fifth novel (The Physiognomy; The Portrait of Mrs. Charbuque; etc.), set in Depression-era Long Island, on the posh North Shore. Diego, a 17-year-old Mexican illegal immigrant, narrates the escapades, as he follows his mentor and surrogate father Thomas Schell, who rescued him from the street and tutored him in subjects from English to chicanery. Disguised as a Hindu swami, Diego helps Schell conduct phony séances to bilk wealthy Long Islanders. But when Schell sees the apparition of a young girl during a séance and then hears of the disappearance of Charlotte Barnes, daughter of shipping magnate Harold Barnes, he determines to solve the case. Schell and Diego—along with henchman Antony and phony psychic Morgan Shaw—find Charlotte's dead body covered by a cloth painted with a Ku Klux Klan symbol. They link her murder, along with those of several other dead children, both to the Klan and to a nefarious Dr. Greaves, aka Fenton Agarias, who headed up grotesque eugenics experiments. Though Ford's efforts to evoke the period occasionally strike a twee note, he's crafted an engaging read.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

From Booklist

Ford's fascinating literary thriller tells the story of an orphan's career as Ondoo, a phony mystic. He is really Diego, a Mexican and part of a trio staging seances for the gullible grieving of Long Island's Gold Coast, where in 1932 you'd never know the Great Depression is raging. Besides whacked-out humor and compelling suspense, there is sentiment among the thieves in the novel, and all those qualities make it hard to put down. After all, how can you not love a wake attended by Hal the Dog Man, Marge the Fat Lady, and "the legless spider boy who walked on his hands and could bite a silver dollar in half," especially when the deceased is Coney Island snake charmer Morty, whose close companion and best friend, Wilma the Cobra, died of a broken heart when he expired and lies coiled up next to his head in the coffin? And when Diego's mentor undertakes a quest for a kidnapped girl, the mood turns mysterious without, thanks to all the fast dialogue, ever slowing the pace. Whitney Scott
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

Just read the first page.
You will be turning the pages at a steady pace just to find out where the latest clue leads.
Morgan Tribala
Great story, great characters, overall great read.

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

35 of 37 people found the following review helpful By Nathan on August 17, 2005
Format: Paperback
Jeffrey Ford is on my short list of authors for whom I'll put down whatever else I'm reading when they have a new book out. His Well-Built City trilogy is fantastic, The Portrait of Mrs. Charbuque is wonderful, and his short stories are routinely first-rate -- The Fantasy Writer's Assistant is one of my very favorite story collections. That said, I was a little worried about Ford's latest novel, The Girl in the Glass. Published under Harper's suspense imprint, Dark Alley, this novel promised to be less overtly fantastical than Ford's previous outings, which did not bode well, as my taste runs toward fantasy.

I needen't have worried. The Girl in the Glass was a delight from start to finish, or rather a non-stop deluge of delights. I read it in one sitting, then immediately wished I hadn't, because I wanted to keep on reading it. Set in Depression-era New York, the story is narrated by a young Mexican immigrant who's been adopted by a con man and is posing as a Hindu to avoid repatriation -- and to add a bit of the exotic to his mentor's act. The mystery kicks in when, on a con, his mentor sees a ghostly girl in the glass, and makes it his mission to find out who she is and what's going on. As our characters work to unravel the mystery of the girl, we meet a variety of wonderful characters, from carnies to Klansmen, and get embroiled in all sorts of grotesque, wonderful events.

I'm not so good at plot summary or book reviewing, I think, so I'll say this: it's worth your time to give this novel and this author a try. Almost every page offers up some new beauty or wonder, the characters are a treat, and the prose goes down smooth. This is probably not the best book you will read this year, but it is a gem that you would do well not to overlook.
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19 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Richard Bowes on August 17, 2005
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Writing this, I'm torn between describing the strengths of this elegant and compelling novel or just telling you that there are still a few weeks of summer left and that The Girl In The Glass will be the beach book of your dreams.

Ford catches the spirit of The Thin Man, both Hammett's novel and the Powell/Loy movies that followed, and mixes that with deft dashes of magic and some darker tones. Set in the bitter Depression year of 1932 on a Long Island from which the Great Gatsby would have only recently departed, the novel catches the special mystery of a lost time and place where rural back roads, led to lavish beach-front estates and liquor smuggling was a local industry.

Young Diego, a Mexican immigrant, is a wonderfully engaging narrator. Through him we see Thomas Schell and Anthony Cleopatra, a master con man and his assistant, making hay among the well to do and easily fooled. Then, in the middle of a phony séance, Schell, a dealer in sleight-of-hand, a collector of exotic butterflies sees the inexplicable reflection of a girl on a pane of glass. Against a backdrop of kidnapping and murder, both Diego and Schell find romance and the fly underworld of carnival freaks and flim-flam collides with the deeply disturbing one of eugenics cults.

I came to love this little band of scam artists enough that I was sorry when the pages ran out and the book ended. In summer or in any other season, I think you'll love them too.
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Format: Paperback
Girl in the Glass drew me in from the first paragraph and kept me engrossed till the end. Few novels of late can boast of doing the same with me. Jeffrey Ford not only creates/recreates a time period and a very distinctive subculture, he tells one heck of a story utilizing this setting.

Every character in this book comes to life. Antony in particular is a character that will live for a long time in my memory. I sometimes find myself in situations where I would not mind having an Antony handy.

The butterfly motif here would shame even Nabakov.

All in all, I find myself not wanting to say too much to ruin this book for you. I will say this--you should read Girl in the Glass. You will not be disappointed.

I give this book a full recommendation.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By still searching on January 13, 2008
Format: Paperback
This is the story of three con men working the rich but gullible in the depression years of 1930s Long Island: it is told through the eyes of seventeen year old Diego who, along with his mentor Schell and sidekick/bodyguard Anthony, provides séances to contact their recently departed loved and not so loved ones. During a routine scam in some millionaire's mansion Schell actually does see the `ghost' of a girl gone recently missing and puts their 'normal' work schedule on hold while he and his two accomplices set out to solve the mystery of the girl's whereabouts.

Ford has conjured up a wonderful confection with echoes of Faulkner's The Reivers; evoking the time if not the place. It's a funny, sad, lyrical but above all beautifully written coming of age tale that also manages along the way a quick detour into the heart of darkness! No mean feat! This book could quite easily be read in one sitting - if you ever decide to give yourself a real treat - buy it, take the phone of the hook and lock yourself away!
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Clay on June 4, 2006
Format: Paperback
I absolutely adored this book a whole bunch. It's about con men who trick people to believe they are talking to a dead lost relative inorder to make a living and Jeffrey Ford does a really good job on giving an excellent background throughout the entire book. Soon though one of the con men see's "the girl in the glass" during one of their schemes and investigates the girl. The excitement never dies down through the book even when the main chracter (an immigrant) isn't getting chased down by some type of crook. There's relationships also in the book which is always good to have when your dealing with the criminalish atmosphere the book gives. A DEFINITE buy for almost everyone.... This book has a lot of drug content and one sexual scene one point in the book so don't get it unless your atleast in your later teens.
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