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A Spectacle of Corruption: A Novel [Paperback]

David Liss
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
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Book Description

Nov. 23 2004
Benjamin Weaver, the quick-witted pugilist turned private investigator, who was first introduced in the Edgar Award-winning novel, THE CONSPIRACY OF PAPER, returns. While inquiring into some threatening notes sent to a Church of England priest, Weaver is arrested for the murder of a dockworker. After his conviction, engineered by a crooked judge who has blatantly instructed the jury to disregard the truth, Weaver escapes from prison, intent upon proving his innocence. Meanwhile, Great Britain is reeling from a financial scandal that has sent the economy into a downward spiral; it is also preparing for a general parliamentary election - an event that happens only every seven years. Not generally someone to get caught up in politics, Benjamin Weaver finds himself caught in the crossfire of election trickery as he attempts to clear his name. The question remains, however: What good is proving his innocence, again, when having done so once only resulted in conviction? Instead, he is determined to work against his enemies and learn their secrets to try to discover why he has been singled out for this prosecution. The most likely engineer of his ruin is Dennis Dogmill, a tobacco importer and the election agent of the Whig candidate for the Westminster Parliamentary seat. Dogmill's opponent, and Weaver's unlikely ally, is Griffin Melbury, the Tory candidate and the husband of his cousin's widow, Miriam, whom Weaver once sought to marry. To discover the truth about the plot against him, Weaver disguises himself as a newly returned West Indian plantation owner. He must integrate himself with London society and political manipulators in order to learn the truth.
--This text refers to the MP3 CD edition.

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Product Description

From Publishers Weekly

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.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Booklist

*Starred Review* Late-seventeenth- and early-eighteenth-century England--from Cromwell through the Jacobites--has become the richest of soil for writers of literary thrillers, the equivalent of New Orleans for contemporary hard-boiled authors. Liss makes the most of it in this sequel to the acclaimed Conspiracy of Paper (2000). Benjamin Weaver, an outsider three times over--a Jew, a former pugilist, and a "thief-taker" (one who helps victims of robbery recover their goods)--is in the soup again, framed for murder and without a clue as to who or why. He intends to answer both those questions, but first he must break out of Newgate Prison. He does so, in a marvelous set piece, and then finds himself in an even messier pickle: politics. The first English general election is in progress, with Tories and Whigs out-dirty-tricking one another while the Jacobites lurk on the outskirts, hoping to foment a revolution. To determine why he was framed, Benjamin must ingratiate himself with a leading Tory, who happens to be the husband of Benjamin's former lover, Miriam, now posing as a Gentile. Liss' elegantly constructed, multidimensional plot combines all the intrigue of the Jacobite era with a Dickensian feel for London' s lower depths and for the "spectacle of corruption" that is the city's politics. Perhaps the greatest pleasure here is the perfect melding of sharply rendered historical detail with a charismatic, fast-talking hero (an eighteenth-century version of Robert B. Parker's Spenser). This is a series to be savored. Bill Ott
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
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SINCE THE PUBLICATION of the first volume of my memoirs, I have found myself the subject of more notoriety than I had ever known or might have anticipated. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

4.0 out of 5 stars
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Most helpful customer reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Very entertaining novel July 11 2004
About 3 or 4 times a year I am able to find a novel that has me captivated and actually looking forward to retiring for the evening, when I may lay in my bed and sup Pellegrino whislt returning to the novel that has captured my attention.....
Okay, enough of that nonsense.... this book is really very good. I was a bit lazy while reading A Conspiracy of Paper so I don't remember all the details, but I'm able to pick back up 4 years later quite nicely. Benjamin Weaver is a good protagonist, and Liss spins a great and intelligent tale.
Liss as an author reminds me of Ken Follett. And I mean that as a sincere compliment. The "Pillars of the Earth" Ken Follett. The best of Ken Follett.
As far as Liss' three major novels go, I'd rank them thusly...
1. Coffee Trader - my favorite book of his
2. A Spectacle of Corruption - Ben Weaver is better this time round
3. A Conspiracy of Paper - Partly my fault but I just couldn't get into it as much as others.
Bottom line, this book is well worth your time, you'll really enjoy it!
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4.0 out of 5 stars An riveting historical mystery June 24 2004
By Larry
David Liss, author of the Edgar award winning, A CONSPIRACY OF PAPER, has once again penned a compelling yet authentic mystery that takes place in 18th century London. Benjamin Weaver is a private investigator who finds himself convicted of murder and sentenced to be hung after a man is discovered dead at the site of a bar fight. Weaver was investigating a threatening letter sent to a priest when he was apparently at the wrong place and time. He is, of course, innocent yet is sent to the gallows by a corrupt judge. As he is heading to the prison, a mysterious woman passes a lockpick to him and Weaver manages to escape. Given that he is sentenced to hang, he must discover who framed him and why in order to clear his name. His search for answers leads him into the convoluted web of British parliamentary politics in which the election is termed 'the spectacle of corruption'. He must use every ounce of his cunning to discover the truth and save his own life.
With the SPECTACLE OF CORRUPTION, David Liss has managed to create a complex yet compelling historical mystery. Characters are realistic creations but the problem is there are so many minor ones that, at times, it may be hard to keep track of who is who. However, the main characters are original and memorable. The plot with a bit too much complexity tends to meander and there's a certain lack of focus. Weaver appears to travel around and around in circles trying to get answers. This is not a fast read in any sense of the word. However it is all encompassing and so well written that the casual reader would find the time well worth spent.
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5.0 out of 5 stars David Liss and Benjamin Weaver make a great team April 3 2004
Along the way to completing his doctoral dissertation on 18th century British literature and culture, David Liss took a detour down a different path. He authored A CONSPIRACY OF PAPER, and for his effort was awarded the 2000 Edgar Award for Best First Novel. While the halls of academia lost a potentially fine college professor, mystery aficionados gained a writer who combines his skill as a historian with excellent writing talents to produce compelling and fascinating novels.
A SPECTACLE OF CORRUPTION is the sequel to the first Liss novel. Once again, readers are transported to London during an era when England and the British aristocracy ruled the world. Benjamin Weaver, the classic mystery novel protagonist, makes a return appearance in the book and once again must solve a crime that has personal significance.
Weaver is a classic outsider. He is a Jew in a Christian community, an ex-boxer who supports himself by tracking down debtors and felons for aristocratic clients. In contemporary society he would be Sam Spade, Mike Hammer or any number of characters found in Elmore Leonard novels. In Weaver's first appearance in A CONSPIRACY OF PAPER he was called upon to investigate his father's death. In A SPECTACLE OF CORRUPTION the problem is even more personal: Weaver must investigate a murder for which he has been wrongfully charged and convicted.
In the year 1722, England was embroiled in a parliamentary election viewed as a referendum on the rule of King George. As the novel opens, Weaver finds himself on trial for the murder of Walter Yate. Confident in his innocence, Weaver is stunned to hear the Old Bailey jury return a verdict of guilty and in accordance with that verdict sentenced to be executed by hanging in six weeks.
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