Synopses & Reviews
A return to the form that launched Iain Pears onto bestseller lists around the world: a vast historical mystery, marvelous in its ambition and ingenius in its complexity.
In his most dazzling novel since the groundbreaking New York Times bestseller An Instance of the Fingerpost, Iain Pears tells the story of John Stone, financier and arms dealer, a man so wealthy that in the years before World War One he was able to manipulate markets, industries, and indeed entire countries and continents.
A panoramic novel with a riveting mystery at its heart, Stone’s Fall is a quest to discover how and why John Stone dies, falling out of a window at his London home.
Chronologically, it moves backwards—from London in 1909 to Paris in 1890, and finally to Venice in 1867— and in the process the quest to uncover the truth plays out against the backdrop of the evolution of high-stakes international finance, Europe’s first great age of espionage, and the start of the twentieth century’s arms race.
Like Fingerpost, Stone’s Fall is an intricately plotted and richly satisfying puzzle—an erudite work of history and fiction that feels utterly true and oddly timely—and marks the triumphant return of one of the world’s great storytellers.
"British author Pears matches the brilliance of his bestselling An Instance of the Fingerpost (1998) with this intricate historical novel, which centers on the death of a wealthy financier. In part one, after John Stone falls to his death from a window in his London mansion in 1909, Stone's seductive, much younger widow, Elizabeth, hires Matthew Braddock, who works as a journalist, to trace a child of her late husband's she never knew existed until the child is named in his will. Braddock, a novice in the world of finance, uncovers evidence that Stone's actual net worth was far less than commonly believed, even as he finds himself falling for his client. In part two, set in 1890 Paris, Henry Cort, a shadowy spy, provides another perspective on the bewitching Elizabeth. Stone's own reminiscences from his time in Venice in 1867 cast further light on the circumstances of his demise. The pages will fly by for most readers, who will lose themselves in the clear prose and compelling plot. " Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Mr. Pears's assured command of period history, language, lore, and attitudes is formidable." The Wall Street Journal
"Certainly, one of the best historical mysteries of the last several years." Booklist (starred review)
"A learned, witty and splendidly entertaining descent into the demimondes of international espionage, arms dealing, financial hanky-panky and other favorite pastimes of those without conscience." Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
"Stone's Fall is recommended to those who like to weigh down their beach towel with something extra-large, classy on the outside and just a little trashy within." Newsday
"A marvel of skillful agglomeration, the novel propels us backward in time to illuminate one man's rise and fall....Pears is an exuberant writer who cannot resist a digression whether describing an incidental character or the invention of the torpedo." The Washington Post
"This latest from Pears is in the best sense of the word an old-fashioned novel, populated with vital characters and bursting at the seams with narrative vigor. Highly recommended." Library Journal (starred review)
About the Author
Iain Pears is the author of the bestsellers An Instance of the Fingerpost and The Dream of Scipio and a novella, The Portrait, as well as a series of acclaimed detective novels, a book of art history and countless articles on artistic, financial and historical subjects. He lives in Oxford, England.