- Mass Market Paperback
- Publisher: Berkley (1999)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0425167720
- ISBN-13: 978-0425167724
- Product Dimensions: 11.2 x 4.2 x 17.6 cm
- Shipping Weight: 227 g
- Average Customer Review: 274 customer reviews
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #497,008 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
AN Instance of the Fingerpost Mass Market Paperback – 1999
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"Anyone who reads this will want to tell their friends about it... This is a novel that combines the simple pleasures of Agatha Christie with the intellectual subtlety of Umberto Eco, don't let it pass by unread" * Sunday Times * "A fictional tour de force which combines erudition with mystery" -- P D James "The kind of book that has you reading it by torchlight under the bedclothes. An historical detective story set to rival The Name of the Rose, it provides the rare pleasure of combining an intricate plot with insight into the political intrigues of Restoration England" * The Times * "Pears brings to life a vibrant 17th-century world...a tour de force" * Daily Telegraph * "Brilliantly researched and imagined...a remarkable achievement" * Sunday Telegraph * --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
About the Author
Iain Pears was born in 1955. Educated at Wadham College, Oxford, he has worked as a journalist, an art historian and television consultant. He is the author of six highly praised detective novels, which include The Raphael Affair, The Bernini Bust and An Instance of the Fingerpost. He has also written a book of art history and countless articles on artistic, financial and historical subjects.
From the Trade Paperback edition. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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We have four points of view, with varying contradictions and/or agreements, but, by its nature, only one accurate perception. The first treatise is that of Marco DaCola, an educated Venetian, aspiring to be a physician in 1660's Oxford. But first he must clear up pressing family business matters. A flamboyant and articulate gentleman, DaCola finds himself without funds, and dependent upon the generosity of new acquaintances. Upon his arrival in Oxford, he is called upon to treat the mother of Sarah Blundy, the young woman finally indicted and found guilty of the crime. DaCola is out of his element, constantly adapting to the rules of the gentleman's society in which he hopes to remain. The second tale is that of Jack Prescott, a young man obsessed with clearing his father's name, besmirched with the accusation of treason. Jack Prescott is excitable with a flair for the dramatic and much difficulty with self-control. The more he learns of circumstances, the more he attempts to mold these events to his best advantage. The third viewpoint is from John Wallis, a gifted mathematician who collects diaries and assorted papers to lend credibility to his hypothesis. With a tendency toward the judgmental, Wallis is adept at cryptography, a talent which avails him intimate knowledge of circumstances. And finally, Mr. Wood has the benefit of reading all the other views before offering his own very important details.
The beauty of this book is how affecting each story seems, rich in detail and supposition. Each account reveals a little more of the truth, until the reader has all the facts and therein the dénouement of the mystery.
Not only is this a compelling mystery for its distinctive style and layout, but this book displays intelligence, knowledge and an ability to use ideas and philosophy in what is far more than a mystery. Pears ties everything up together in the end, explaining the misconceptions of each of the three 'liars' (not really so: they are wrong, but not intentionally) and giving the philosophical idea that there will be one 'instance of the fingerpost' where something points to only one solution without doubt: this being the evidence of the final witness.
The book is about far more than just who committed the murder, for if it were, the first three accounts could bore: it is about the issues of the time and incorporates so many different themes into its fold. The solutions is an ingenious, and unpredictable one, and this is a true thriller, intelligently set in another background.
Pears has lots of fun writing through the eyes of others. Because more than one of the witnesses is easy to dislike, Pears is able to air ridiculous statements which, in these times, could never be accepted, and get away with it. In the course of the book, journalists (Pears once was one and has great fun insulting his own ex-proffesion through the eyes of someone else), Shakespeare, and all sorts of other people and things are attacked in a manner which is witty - of course Pears does not believe these things are awful but is hilariously showing how people's opinions of the day differ from our own.
This is one of the most clever books I have ever read: highly historical, philosophical, intellectual, and a work of true ambition and a sky-high result to match. 5 stars.
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