1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Recommended
This is a terrific novel. Crisply written dialogue and always twisting and turning plot that keeps you guessing. Despite the action and intrigue, the story is very plausible. I'm looking forward to Mr. Liss' other novels.
Published on July 13 2004 by Thomas Dignazio
3.0 out of 5 stars Good, but not great, tale of the past
I had high hopes for this book. These days I rarely read fiction, and when I do, it's usually because it is blending fictional characters with actual events. This book does a capable job of this, but I just wish there was a little more to it.
Liss certainly gets off to a rousing start and the novel is fairly intriguing most of the way. But it just seems to gradually...
Published on Jan. 6 2004 by James Sadler
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Recommended,
This review is from: A Conspiracy of Paper: A Novel (Paperback)This is a terrific novel. Crisply written dialogue and always twisting and turning plot that keeps you guessing. Despite the action and intrigue, the story is very plausible. I'm looking forward to Mr. Liss' other novels.
5.0 out of 5 stars "Protector, guardian, bailiff, constable-for-hire...",
This review is from: A Conspiracy of Paper: A Novel (Paperback)When we are faced with a main character like Ben Weaver, involved in performing tasks like the ones mentioned in the title of this review, we know we are in for a great ride. David Liss does not disappoint us and delivers on this implicit promise, clearly showing his gifts as a writer in the process. The author presents a highly interesting historical novel, with an intricate plot, and full of twists that will leave the readers guessing until the end. The fact that he deals with the financial markets and concepts like probability in the eighteenth century, added to the attractiveness of the story for me, since these are topics with which I have been involved throughout my studies and in my current job.
It is an era of turmoil in England; King James has been deposed and is supported by France. This is the ideal setting for criminals to operate, since confusion reigns in the country. Ben Weaver is a Jew who left his father's home and changed his name a few years ago and had a brief moment of fame as a pugilist. Now he sustains himself by working as hired help in various enterprises, most of them dealing with helping people that have fallen victims of illegal acts. Weaver, whose real name is Lienzo (those who read "The Coffee Trader" will recognize the name), tells the story that starts with a murder of sorts in which he was involved. He was trying to recover the pocketbook of Sir Owen and when faced with a murderer his only option was to strike back and kill him.
Most of the thefts in the city are orchestrated or supervised by a character named Wild, who has all kinds of ruffians working for him and who offers services similar to the ones Weaver offers. Needless to say, Wild has a much easier time recovering the goods, since he basically charges people to give them back what he stole from them. Also, Weaver is contacted by Michael Balfour, who claims that Weaver's father, who died recently in an accident, was murdered, as was Balfour's own father. Balfour hires Weaver to find out the truth and Ben ends up having to contact his uncle Miguel Lienzo and slowly going back to his Jewish roots.
The plot has considerable depth and a myriad of suspicious characters are involved in Weaver's investigations. Also, the way Liss describes the characters and settings makes it easy to visualize them clearly. His treatment of the theme of Judaism and what it meant to be member of this religion in Europe, especially England, shortly after the Inquisition is enlightening and shocking at the same time. This is a novel I thoroughly enjoyed and I am looking forward to reading the next work by this great author.
5.0 out of 5 stars Nothing Changes,
This review is from: A Conspiracy of Paper: A Novel (Paperback)This marvelous historical mystery fiction reads right out of the pages of today's news, with stock trading scandals still undergoing prosecution and conspiracy uppermost in most folks minds as a normal part of everyday 21st century news.
David Liss' robust and manly Jewish ex-pugilist, Ben Weaver, lives in the midst of rough times in 1719's London, a life he has chosen, apart from his heritage of Iberian/Portugese Jews settled into their own part of London then. Weaver, his pseudonym, earns his keep by seeking out and bringing to justice the criminals who trespass on the wealthy, while regaining the treasures of the wealthy for a price. His "trade" parallels that of a most corrupt pre-police enforcer, Jonathan Wild. And Weaver finds himself rival, on a small scale, to Wild's organization. This set-up alone threatens Weaver's very life, but he seems to thrive on adversity, and utilizes his unlikely friendship with a Welsh surgeon to survive the underground powers. It is when he becomes further immersed into his past, indeed the life and family he has rejected as a young man, that Weaver's greatest adventure begins, as he faces the conflicts of a man's roots, namely his Jewish foundations, while seeking to solve a mystery about stock trading in those early market days.
Liss' understanding of financial dealings makes this very hefty and informative tale a tool of education as well as entertainment. He defty employs a fast moving, high action plot to seduce the reader into what might seem dry and boring, the financial trading scene, imbuing it all with an aura of intrigue. Surely anyone who has studied the trade disasters of modern day stock exchanges can identify with the excitement and confusion of the 1719 trade market. A lesson in economics awaits the reader, as well as a grand adventure.
4.0 out of 5 stars Financial Fiction,
This review is from: A Conspiracy of Paper: A Novel (Paperback)Reviewer Lee Armstrong suggests that David Liss may have invented a new genre of "financial thrillers." Au contraire! There are hundreds of books in this category, or at least in the "financial fiction" category (many of them, like Black Money, definitely thrillers).
For a listing of books in this genre, see [...] which also has links to
5.0 out of 5 stars Follow the Money,
This review is from: A Conspiracy of Paper: A Novel (Paperback)Perhaps David Liss has started a new genre, the financial thriller. In the twists and turns of the tale of Benjamin Weaver, Liss allows the historical backdrop of London in 1719 and the impending scandal of the South Seas Company to dress an amazingly complex train of scandal and duplicity. Using an historical figure Jonathan Wild as the arch-villain as an 18th century Mafioso profiting from theft, prostitution and even "peaching" his own crooks to the gallows for profit when they've outlived their usefulness, Liss has a great cast of characters. The behind-the-scenes maneuvering of the Bank of England's Bloathwait vs. the South Seas Company's Adelman serves to keep each new discovery off-balance. The other remarkable accomplishment is the amazing amount of humor that Liss scatters through the tale with Weaver's observations of various loose characters. The supporting characters of his buddy Elias who performs surgery when not too drunk, Kate Cole the un-penitant prostitute and Sir Owen gives amazing possibilities for a budding screenwriter. As Weaver seeks to find the cause for his father's death, we are constantly caught off guard with each new bogus stock or less-than-random act of violence. Cousin Miriam adds a love interest and issues of feminism to the mix. Add to this the cultural backdrop of Weaver being a Jew in Christian England, and Liss weaves an incredibly rich and complex tale that keeps our interest as the pages burn from turning. The climactic scene in the theatre as Weaver unmasks the mysterious phantom of Martin Rochester is breath taking. Bravo!
5.0 out of 5 stars Great historical and financial history,
This review is from: A Conspiracy of Paper: A Novel (Paperback)As an avid reader of historical fiction, I really enjoyed this book. Mr. Liss does a fine job of interweaving a murder mystery with a cultural identity "crisis." His exploration of the protagonist's submerged feelings about his father and his Jewish heritage is compelling and does not belabor the main mystery plot of the novel. His characters are well-developed and engaging. I can't wait to dig into "Coffee Trader." Many kudos from a sleep-deprived reader!
5.0 out of 5 stars Historical Tough Guy Fiction,
This review is from: A Conspiracy of Paper: A Novel (Paperback)Despite its somewhat awkward title, "Conspiracy of Paper" is a first rate work of historical fiction with enough action to please any mystery fan. Author David Liss paints a vivid portrait of early 18th century London as seen through the eyes of his protagonist, Jewish "theif-taker" Benjamin Weaver. Weaver is actually a forerunner to the modern private eye, and is as quick with his wits as he is with his tounge.
As the book opens, Weaver is hired to investigate the apparently accidental death of his own estranged father. He delves, reluctantly at first, into a world of double-dealing and high finance, in which paper "currency" is fast replacing barter and gold as the principle means of exchange. Liss is a master at creating the proper atmosphere, and he painstakingly includes the necessary detail to give his story authenticty. The end result is a book that is satisfying both as a mystery and a work of history.
4.0 out of 5 stars Convoluted confection...,
This review is from: A Conspiracy of Paper: A Novel (Paperback)Having recently read the Girl with a Pearl Earring, I was looking for another period piece in which to immerse myself and came across this book. Mr. Liss, an academic steeped in the literature of early eighteenth century England, is well prepared to offer us a realistic view of London, beautifully written in the rather pompous manner of the period. As observed by other reviewers, as a mystery this is a slow and convoluted tale, requiring much patience of the reader. As a pastiche guiding one through a world that is hard for modern sensibilities to appreciate, the book is a delight. I happen to be a fan of both intrigue and of learning about other periods in human history. I trust that Mr. Liss has given us the unvarnished truth about the period. His vivid descriptions of characters, manners of dress, personal hygience, and the urban setting are excellent, giving us a taste of what it must have been like to be alive during those years. I doubt that many readers would wish to inhabit the world described by this lapsed Jewish pugilist turned detective. As much as I appreciate being introduced to the sordid conditions of Georgian London, I'm very happy to live in a world where human waste is NOT thrown out the window and onto the street. You get the idea!
I recommend the book to those readers with patience to follow a complex, slowly developing story who would appreciate an unromantic treatment of a bygone era in which wealth secures great privilege, even as destitution and crime flourish on the streets. One might argue that Mr. Liss offers us a morality tale of significance to our present circumstances with the comparisons that could be drawn to conditions of wealth, poverty and crime as they exist in the modern world, but I won't press the point. Readers who follow the tale to its tawdry end will draw their own conclusions on this matter.
5.0 out of 5 stars Novel Contradictions: Soulful Thriller about a Jewish Boxer,
This review is from: A Conspiracy of Paper: A Novel (Paperback)Anyone how had traded the Talmudic world of Orthodox Jews for Wall Street (or Main Street) would find a soul mate in Liss's protagonist--a thoughtful, reflective Jew whose victories in the boxing ring detracted nothing from his sorrow over leaving his father's home and way of life. Conspiracy of Paper left me wanting, not for a better read, for it was splendid, but for a second chance to redeem myself in my own late father's eyes. While his novel is set in London long before electricity, cars or telephones, Liss's novel is timeless: A son seeking to mend the bridges he had severed during his rebelious youth, seeking to quiet the demons of regret by showing his father, who may be watching from above, that the break between them had not been a rejection of him or of Jewish heritage, but a young man's irresistable urge to conquer the world.
4.0 out of 5 stars PITCH PERFECT READING,
This review is from: A Conspiracy of Paper (Audio Cassette)Benjamin Weaver lives on the outskirts of society in 18th century London - a former fighter, he's retained by the wealthy to track criminals. He is also investigating the death of his father, a man he little knew.
This pursuit takes Weaver into the rarefied British financial world where skullduggery is as common as pounds. He is hampered by the powerful who have disguised their dealings in murky webs of intrigue and by relatives dismayed by his distance from the Jewish faith.
Pitch perfect in period detail, the author also weaves a tale of mounting suspense - a perfect platform for the enthralling reading by Michael Cumpsty.
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A Conspiracy of Paper: A Novel by David Liss (Paperback - Jan. 30 2001)
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