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A Spectacle of Corruptionby David Liss
Synopses & Reviews
Benjamin Weaver, the quick-witted pugilist turned private investigator, returns in David Liss's sequel to the Edgar Award-winning novel, A Conspiracy of Paper.
Moments after his conviction for a murder he did not commit, at a trial presided over by a judge determined to find him guilty, Benjamin Weaver is accosted by a stranger who cunningly slips a lockpick and a file into his hands. In an instant he understands two things: Someone had gone to a great deal of trouble to see him condemned to hang—and another equally mysterious agent is determined to see him free.
So begins A Spectacle of Corruption, which heralds the return of Benjamin Weaver, the hero of A Conspiracy of Paper. After a daring escape from eighteenth-century London's most notorious prison, Weaver must face another challenge: how to prove himself innocent of a crime when the corrupt courts have already shown they want only to see him hang. To discover the truth and clear his name, he will have to understand the motivations behind a secret scheme to extort a priest, uncover double-dealings in the unrest among London's dockworkers, and expose the conspiracy that links the plot against him to the looming national election — an election with the potential to spark a revolution and topple the monarchy.
Unable to show his face in public, Weaver pursues his inquiry in the guise of a wealthy merchant who seeks to involve himself in the political scene. But he soon finds that the world of polite society and politics is filled with schemers and plotters, men who pursue riches and power — and those who seek to return the son of the deposed king to the throne. Desperately navigating a labyrinth of politicians, crime lords, assassins, and spies, Weaver learns that, in an election year, little is what it seems and the truth comes at a staggeringly high cost.
Once again, acclaimed author David Liss combines historical erudition with mystery, complex characterization, and a captivating sense of humor. A Spectacle of Corruption offers insight into our own world of political scheming, and it firmly establishes David Liss as one of the best writers of intellectual suspense at work today.
"This sequel to Liss's Edgar Awardwinning A Conspiracy of Paper (2000) brings back ex-pugilist Benjamin Weaver and his 18th-century London environs in all their squalid glory. Benjamin has become a "thieftaker," a sort of bounty hunter/private eye, and is investigating the simple case of a threatening letter when he is caught up in a riot, accused of murder and sentenced to hang. After a gutsy escape, he sets about unraveling the mystery of who framed him and why. Donning the disguise of a wealthy coffee planter from Jamaica, Benjamin infiltrates the upper classes, where he encounters a plot centering on a hotly contested House of Commons election. There is much explanation (perhaps too much) of the history and philosophies of the Whig, Tory and Jacobite parties, but this is nicely balanced with Benjamin's forays into London's underbelly, where he has his way with the ladies and dodges dangerous louts looking to kill him. The real fun is the re-creation of the streets of London ("He fell into the alley's filth — the kennel of emptied chamber pots, bits of dead dogs gnawed on by hungry rats, apple cores and oyster shells") and the colorful denizens thereof. Many hours are spent in innumerable coffeehouses, with Benjamin and company imbibing coffee, chocolate, ale, wine and that great destroyer of the poor, rotgut gin, and employing such useful swear words as "shitten stick," "arse pot" and "bum firking." Mystery and mainstream readers with a taste for gritty historical fiction will relish Liss's glorious dialogue, lively rogues, fascinating setting and indomitable hero." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"In Benjamin Weaver, Mr. Liss has created a multifaceted character and a wonderful narrator." The New York Sun
"Liss is a superb writer who evokes the squalor of London with Hogarthian gusto." People
"With eloquent wit, Liss manipulates the concepts of misdirection and probability theory in his serpentine third novel....It all ends with yet another twist that seems to promise we'll hear more from — and more of — the indefatigable Benjamin Weaver. Let's hope so. Kirkus Reviews
Benjamin Weaver, the quick-witted pugilist-turned-private-investigator, returns in Liss's sequel to the Edgar Award-winning novel, A Conspiracy of Paper.
This sequel to the Edgar Award-winning "A Conspiracy of Paper" brings back ex-pugilist Benjamin Weaver and his 18th-century London environs in all their squalid glory. Benjamin is investigating the simple case of a threatening letter when he is caught up in a riot, accused of murder, and sentenced to hang.
About the Author
David Liss is the author of The Coffee Trader and A Conspiracy of Paper, winner of the 2000 Edgar Award for Best First Novel. He lives in San Antonio with his wife and daughter, and can be reached via his website,www.davidliss.com.
From the Hardcover edition.
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