by William Hjortsberg (1994)
Nevermore is silly fun, though to my surprise based on some real events and relationships. The story focuses on the (true) friendship between magician Harry Houdini and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. They shared an interest in mysticism but became enemies based on their opposing views. Doyle was a passionate believer, Houdini a staunch skeptic. It’s no wonder then, that it’s Doyle who sees the ghost of Edgar Allen Poe is Hjortsberg’s serial killer mystery (the serial killer part – not so true).
Despite the spiritual leanings and fun with ghosts, actual New York events and places (I am a sucker for anything set in the early days of the city) and wild sex scenes that jump out of nowhere, this is a stunningly common mystery novel. The reveal never as good as the lead up. It’s all fine and good, but just not what I expected from Hjortsberg, whose sci fi weirdo novel Gray Matters, about the enlightenment of man and floating brains, was far more trippy and unique.
Still, judged for what it is, rather than his previous work, it’s great fun for mystery novel lovers and interesting for anyone curious about the Jazz Age in New York and the tricks of Houdini.