In the tradition of Carter Beats the Devil and The Alienista historical page-turner and the debut of a spectacular young talent.
It is 1920s Philadelphia, a time when the feverish popular obsession with the paranormal is confronted by the inevitable ascendance of the scientific method. With everyone from Houdini to Arthur Conan Doyle weighing in on the existence of parapsychological phenomena, the media is as fixated on the sensational debate as scientists and would-be psychics. Indeed, in 1922, Scientific American offers five thousand dollars for evidence of "conclusive psychic manifestations."
Inspired by this real-life event, Inamorata follows Martin Finch, a twenty-three-year-old Harvard graduate student and member of Scientific American's investigative committee, on the case of a lifetimean attempt to determine whether Mina Crawley, a beautiful Philadelphia socialite, is able to contact the spirit realm. In the tiny upstairs room of the Crawleys' elegant Rittenhouse Square townhouse, Finch is prepared to debunk a fraud. But instead the man of science breaks the cardinal rule of psychic investigation: Never fall in love with the medium...
I looked at the girl Halliday had just shoved at me like a virgin sacrifice. She was a leggy little sophomore from Radcliffe, slim as a cigarette, with a black bob and painted brows that gave her a look of pretty astonishment. She gazed up at me in myopic perplexity, as if my face were a puzzle she'd completed only to find herself holding an unaccounted piece.
I looked at Halliday. "I beg your pardon?"
"Hypnotize her, Finch," he repeated. "Everyone knows you can do it."
"Am I? Why don't we ask Dickie Hodgson's sister?"
Halliday gave me a challenging look. The smug son of a bitch knew he had me. I glanced past him to the nearest exit, clear across Emerson's student lounge, calculating the odds of making my escape before Halliday succeeded in drawing a crowd. A few years earlier I might've stood a chance, but ever since Prohibition attendance at the psychology department's illicit ...
Inamorata, Gangemi's first published novel, features a cast of skeptical graduate students, morphine addicts, beguiling spirit-mediums, sadistic gynecologists, peg-legged Filipino butlers, and a talkative ghost. For historical fiction buffs who like their reading matter a little bit thrilling and more than a touch on the strange side.
(Reviewed by BookBrowse Review Team).
Full Review (445 words).
A reproduction of Houdini's pamphlet exposing Margery The Medium.
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