One major thorn that kept preventing me from enjoying this story fully was how sometimes I would reason a conclusion from what I thought to be obvious clues that took the protagonist and narrator, Benjamin Weaver, longer to puzzle out Somewhere in the back of the book, after the story ends, the author mentions something about the differences between detective work of the time and the sort of reasoning we are used to today, which might play a role in that issue But anyway, if you re looking for a bit of a puzzle with a nice historical feel to it, then this book is perfectly fine not extraordinary, but a decent read However, if you are in pursuit of something that will draw you in for reasons other than intellectual challenge or its historical setting, this is not the book for you.
This is the first David Liss I ve read, and I have already downloaded two Economics has never been my strong suit, but I found myself completely fascinated by the story of the South Sea Company and the world of finance in early 18th century England, the background of this thoroughly engaging and enjoyable whodunit.
Benjamin Weaver, A Jew And An Ex Boxer, Is An Outsider In Eighteenth Century London, Tracking Down Debtors And Felons For Aristocratic Clients The Son Of A Wealthy Stock Trader, He Lives Estranged From His Family Until He Is Asked To Investigate His Father S Sudden Death Thus Weaver Descends Into The Deceptive World Of The English Stock Jobbers, Gliding Between Coffee Houses And Gaming Houses, Drawing Rooms And Bordellos The Weaver Uncovers, The Darker The Truth Becomes, Until He Realizes That He Is Following Too Closely In His Father S Footsteps And They Just Might Lead Him To His Own Grave An Enthralling Historical Thriller, A Conspiracy of Paper Will Leave Readers Wondering Just How Much Has Changed In The Stock Market In The Last Three Hundred Years I think I loved everything about this book the time period, the main character, the history, the scandal, the mystery So it s about a boxer turned thief turned thief taker who is trying to uncover the mystery behind his father s not so accidental death Much of the story revolves around financial issues, which I really enjoyed I love finance and economics and put together with a mystery Brilliant.
I thought the author did a great job unraveling the whole mystery Most of the time I felt Benjamin s the main character exasperation nothing seemed to make sense, just a lot of seemingly unrelated information I enjoyed working through the clues along with Benjamin I too was so wrapped up in the conspiracy that I couldn t really guess who would end up behind the murder and scandal Every time I thought I had figured it out, something would happen to throw me off I suppose I knew at least one person who was involvedAnother thing I really enjoyed was the main character s task to learn the nuances of the financial market economics At one point he is trying to understand about paper currency being backed up by silver, an aspect of the economy I still don t fully understand If everyone thinks 1 is worth 1, isn t that good enough I get that there has to be value, butit s confusing Several times I found myself having similar thoughts or agreeing with Benjamin s philosophies about certain things.
I would definitely recommend this book David Liss is an elegant and witty writer which is how I like my authors The Whiskey Rebels is one of my favorite books Because I didn t love this one quite as much, it gets 4 stars instead of 5 That being said.
I absolutely adored the protagonist in this book former pugilist Benjamin Weaver who was, of course, smart, brawny and witty which is how I love my men.
I learned a lot about stockjobbery and Exchange Alley Change Alley in 1719 London I had never thought about how confusing it would be to be the first populace in English speaking world to try out holding wealth in a piece of paper and how precarious that would feel We are all used to it now I had never heard of the the battle between the South Sea Company and The Bank of England for the funding of the national debt And I d never heard of the South Sea Bubble which was the first stock market crash in the English speaking world in 1720 This is the villainy of which I have warned you Our very enemy is constructed of paper The crime is paper and the criminal is paper Only the victims are real.
There is a sense, you see, that finance is but a game, the rules and the outcome of which have been preset by men operating in secret.
Back to the way Liss writesa quote from the Historical Note at the back I have, in the language of this novel, tried to suggest the rhythms of eighteenth century prose, although I have made many modifications in the interest of readability My intention was to invoke the feel of contemporaneous speech without burdening readers with idiosyncrasies that often seem inhospitable or circuitous by today s standards.
This is one of the reasons why I love the way he writes an historical novel Some of my favorite bits and pieces the self indulgent part of my review Benjamin Weaver Jewish talking of his non Jewish friend Elias Elias complained that he should risk his foreskin every time he came to pay me a visit, but to the best of my knowledge, he died with it still attached.
I hope my reader recognizes that I had no desire to harm this woman, for I never choose to inflict violence upon that sex I have, however, few scruples about the threat of violence, and with the delicate sensibilities of the female constitution, threats are generally all that I require.
We had been reduced to two men, deprived of rank and station, matching our strength in a contest of rage And it is no idle boast, reader, that, in a contest of this order of fist and brawn and willingness to take punishment a lazy, well fed baronet stood not a chance against me.
She was beautiful, yes, but so are many women She had a quick wit, but women of intelligence are not so rare as some unkind authors tell us Proximity, I have learned, is often as effective as violence.
I suppose by the time I had my fourth mug of ale, all on an empty stomach, I had turned from dejected to morose He agreed with surprising obsequiousness I had once seen him covertly administer a triple dose of laxative to a gentlemen who had made the mistake of calling him an Irishman, but for a man of Bloathwait s wealth, Elias bore up under what he perceived as an insult.
Thank you for that impassioned speech, which I assure you has affected me not at all.
Like many men who thought themselves blessed by the gods of wit than those of money, Elias would often sleep away whole days at a time that he might avoid the consciousness of his own hunger and poverty.
I therefore tossed off Mr Balfour s insults as a bear tosses off the dogs sent to bait it in Hockley in the Hole On a side note I learned a new word Peruke And one side noteappalled as ever at the treatment of Jewish people I will never understand how the human race decided religion and race were a good reason to vilify each other After writing such a long review maybe I should ve rated it 5 stars The denouement is so convoluted that it s almost an anticlimax due to all of the explaining needed I ve read about the South Sea Bubble, but not with a focus on the selling population Loved the Elias character, he s adorable Enjoyed it enough that I m interested in volume 2 As Benjamin Weaver investigates the suspicious death of a local gentleman, he discoveries that the mystery has far too many ties to his own past Weaver struggles to learn the intricacies of the stock jobber system while confronted with a possibly murdered father of his own, an estranged family, an interfering crime boss and a beautiful young widow.
The protagonist, Ben Weaver, is just my kind of hero He s tough and masculine without being a brute and manages to show some sensitivity and brains without turning into a wimp or a loser I m talking to you Robert Langdon I really enjoyed delving into his thought process as he explores the modern notion of scientific reasoning I also liked that he is straight forward and blunt in his dealings with others This saves a lot of tedious speculation, inner dialog and boredom for the reader Instead of formulating a theory and then traipsing around spying and gathering mis information, he just asks what he wants to know I love it The supporting characters are engaging, well written and have enough depth to add suspense and drama to the story The author provides great descriptions of the characters as well as a lot of humor at their expense My favorite was the drinking, womanizing, financially challenged best friend, Elias Gordon I enjoyed learning about 17th century finance, stock jobbers and the lawless streets of London The author does a great job of blending true history and complete fiction The plot moves along at a good pace with sufficient twists and turns to be exciting The author manages to present a considerable amount of information and a wide cast of characters without dragging along, boring the reader or becoming confusingly complex I admit that I didn t predict the ending at all, yet it was quite satisfying.
This is one of the best books I ve read in quite some time and certainly way interesting than you think a historical finance thriller could be For a first novel this was remarkably well written and engaging and the one chapter sneak peek into his next book leads me to believe his success wasn t a one time fluke I look forward to from David Liss.
Excellent historical fiction the writer has extensive knowledge, but does not forget the plot or character development, and does not drown you in unnecessary details It has some scenes I would ve cut out were I its editor, and some repetitive moments, and could ve been tighter, but it is quite unputdownable and very enjoyable, and I ve learned a lot about an economic crisis I had no previous knowledge about.
The level of scholarship in this highly entertaining and very well written historical murder mystery is, in my view, on a par with that master of the historical genre, Peter Ackroyd Given the potential dryness of the subject matter the birth of the stock exchange as we know it and the first crash the so called South Sea Bubble it is extraordinarily enjoyable.
Benjamin Weaver ne Lienzo is a Londoner with a colourful past who now earns his living as a thief taker in 18th century London in those days there was not yet an established police force His services are engaged by one William Balfour who believes that his father s so called self murder was nothing of the sort and that, over, it was closely connected with the death of Weaver s own father, also suspected to be down to foul play Although Weaver has been estranged from his family for the better part of a decade, he is nonetheless persuaded to conduct an investigation into the matter with little to go on other than that the two deceased gentlemen s estates were far smaller than they ought to have been and the close timing of their respective deaths.
Given the current global financial travails and their intimate relationship with banks and the stock market, the issues which arise from this work are highly relevant What or whom we should believe and how much of our financial dealings are fiction are suspicions which the ordinary person has been wondering about ever since the crash and so called credit crunch The wheeler dealing, bluffs and double bluffs, intrigue and so on of today s stockmarket was evidently there from its murky beginnings in Change Alley outlined in this brilliantly writen novel.
The South Sea Company and the Bank of England were at the time vying for the chance to broker Government loans and thus earn themselves a great deal of business and profit It emerges that forgeries of South Sea stocks have been created, a fact discovered by Weaver s father which is what had cost him his life These forgeries are somehow connected to the elusive and mysterious Martin Rochester But who is he really and how might they be connected to the murders Adroitly plotted, beautifully written and with a cast of fabulously colourful characters, A Conspiracy of Paper is a superb novel It is difficult to believe it was Liss s first and I look forward to discovering the rest of his work.
9 of fiveThe Publisher Says Benjamin Weaver is an outsider in eighteenth century London a Jew among Christians a ruffian among aristocrats a retired pugilist who, hired by London s gentry, travels through the criminal underworld in pursuit of debtors and thieves.
In A Conspiracy of Paper, Weaver investigates a crime of the most personal sort the mysterious death of his estranged father, a notorious stockjobber To find the answers, Weaver must contend with a desperate prostitute who knows too much about his past, relatives who remind him of his alienation from the Jewish faith, and a cabal of powerful men in the world of British finance who have hidden their business dealings behind an intricate web of deception and violence Relying on brains and brawn, Weaver uncovers the beginnings of a strange new economic order based on stock speculation a way of life that poses great risk for investors but real danger for Weaver and his family.
In the tradition of The Alienist and written with scholarly attention to period detail, A Conspiracy of Paper is one of the wittiest and most suspenseful historical novels in recent memory, as well as a perceptive and beguiling depiction of the origin of today s financial markets In Benjamin Weaver, author David Liss has created an irresistibly appealing protagonist, one who parlays his knowledge of the emerging stock market into a new kind of detective work.
My Review An honorable man sets out to right a wrong that he cares relatively little about His quest leads him to wrongs he didn t know were possible, and that he cares a lot about righting He can t fix itnobody could then, and nobody can nowbecause it s all to do with human greed and viciousness.
David Liss came to my attention with this top notch thriller He takes the abstruse and impersonal concept put forth by then newly minted economic scientists called economist s Hand of the Market, squeezes that bastard tight, and shakes out of it the economists worst nightmare The human cost of their depersonalized, accountability free rent reaping mills.
What makes Weaver a compelling character is his almost unbelievable level of alienation from every sector of London s social web A Jew estranged from his family by disobedience A Jew in the Christian London that persecutes Catholics, allegedly fellow Christians An educated man who fought with his fists for money An absolute outsider.
It makes for the best fictional characters, this does, and even better for a sleuth in a mystery He has access to but not membership in many groups He can ask questions because he s Different, and he can t be bought off by assimilation too far outside the pale of anyone s social group tolerance nor can he be threatened by exclusion from what that he isn t excluded from already.
A successful thriller combines plausible action in service of believable stakes by a character with a definite and powerful moral compass Delivered here in trumps It s a pleasure to read a book that makes it clear that markets, all markets always and everywhere, must be controlled, damped down, and regulated to prevent the vile and contemptible from abusing the greedy and gullible It is, in the end, the rest of us who pay the bill It was ever thus It will ever be thus, world without end.
Until we re no longer human beings, that is This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution NonCommercial ShareAlike 3.
0 Unported License.