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The Girl in the Glassby Jeffrey Ford
2006 Edgar Award for Best Paperback Original
Synopses & Reviews
The Great Depression has bound a nation in despair — and only a privileged few have risen above it: the exorbitantly wealthy...and the hucksters who feed upon them. Diego, a seventeen-year-old illegal Mexican immigrant, owes his salvation to master grifter Thomas Schell. Together with Schell's gruff and powerful partner, they sail comfortably through hard times, scamming New York's grieving rich with elaborate, ingeniously staged séances — until an impossible occurrence changes everything.
While "communing with spirits," Schell sees an image of a young girl in a pane of glass, silently entreating the con man for help. Though well aware that his otherworldly "powers" are a sham, Schell inexplicably offers his services to help find the lost child — drawing Diego along with him into a tangled maze of deadly secrets and terrible experimentation.
At once a hypnotically compelling mystery and a stunningly evocative portrait of Depression-era New York, The Girl in the Glass is a masterly literary adventure from a writer of exemplary vision and skill.
"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 sances to bilk wealthy Long Islanders. But when Schell sees the apparition of a young girl during a sance 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. Agent, Howard Morhaim. (Aug.)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"A fast-moving, escapist tale that pinches the dirty cheek of the precocious fifth grader in all of us....Ford has written a book that features a dog man who impersonates a dog and a snake that dies of a broken heart. That, for the record, is a winning combination." New York Times
"[A] fascinating literary thriller." Booklist
"Ford romps engagingly here-his Schell an intriguing scoundrel, as if Sherlock Homes had a Moriarity taint in his gene pool." Kirkus Reviews
"You may gallop through [The Girl in the Glass] for entertainment, but it will go on to haunt you." Locus
"The Girl in the Glass grabbed me and wouldn't let go....A spellbinding story, splendidly told." Globe and Mail (Toronto)
About the Author
Jeffrey Ford is a professor of writing and early American literature at Brookdale Community College in New Jersey and the author of four previous novels: the award-winning New York Times Notable Book The Physiognomy, Memoranda, The Beyond, and, most recently, the critically acclaimed The Portrait of Mrs. Charbuque.
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