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Description - A Conspiracy of Paper by David Liss

Benjamin Weaver is an outsider in eighteenth-century London: a Jew among Christians; a ruffian among aristocrats; a retired pugilist who, hired by London's gentry, travels through the criminal underworld in pursuit of debtors and thieves. In A CONSPIRACY OF PAPER, Weaver must investigate a crime of the most personal sort, involving the mysterious death of his estranged father, a notorious stockdealer. To find the answers, Weaver contends with a garrulous prostitute who knows too much about his past, estranged relatives who remind him of his alienation from the Jewish faith, and a group of powerful men in the world of finance who have disguised their business dealings with an intricate web of deception and violence. Relying on brains and brawn, Weaver uncovers the beginnings of a strange new economic order based on stock speculation - a way of life that poses great risk for investors, but real danger for Weaver and his family.

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Book Details

ISBN: 9780349114200
ISBN-10: 034911420X
Format: Paperback
(197mm x 126mm x 30mm)
Pages: 512
Imprint: Abacus
Publisher: Little, Brown Book Group
Publish Date: 3-May-2001
Country of Publication: United Kingdom

Book Reviews - A Conspiracy of Paper by David Liss

UK Kirkus Review » Liss's debut novel comes with an undeniable topicality - the unbridled financial speculation in England in the year leading up to what was, in effect, the world's first stock-market crash, the bursting of the South Sea Bubble in 1720. His protagonist, Benjamin Weaver, a former boxer and highwayman now working as a 'thief-taker' (a kind of 18th-century private detective), is unexpectedly catapulted into this complex world after being hired for two seemingly unrelated cases: he is to reunite a wealthy rake with a batch of love letters stolen by a prostitute, and, more unusually, to investigate the recent death of his own father, a Jewish stockjobber who has died in what appears to have been an accident. Alienated from his father for many years, Weaver knows this second case will involve him not only in the unfamiliar world of London finance, but also in the lives of his estranged family, thereby forcing him to confront the Jewish identity that he had abandoned long ago. The first case is solved swiftly enough, or so it seems, but his father's death draws Weaver into the labyrinthine streets of London's underworld and the equally labyrinthine dealings of the city's financial markets. Sceptical at first, he gradually becomes convinced that his father has been murdered because of his knowledge of a vast financial fraud involving forged stock in the South Sea Company. Engaged in a battle with the Bank of England for the right to fund the nation's debt, the Company would be severely damaged by any revelations of forgeries or other financial impropriety. But do the forged stocks exist or are they the invention of the Company's powerful enemies in the Bank of England? Weaver's investigations introduce him to a cast of thoroughly unappetizing characters, including Jonathan Wild, lord of London's criminal underworld. The end result is an intricate, multi-layered conspiracy novel along the lines of Lempriere's Dictionary or The Quincunx. Liss skilfully captures the excitement and exuberance of an age when the first thrill of stock speculation took hold of the public imagination. The novel is full of interesting trivia, such as the origin of the expression 'double cross', and its panorama of 18th-century London presents a fascinating picture of Jewish life and customs. But it must stand or fall on its plot, and Liss remains brilliantly in control throughout, playing a cunning game of sleight of hand that the most demanding reader of mysteries should happily devour. (Kirkus UK)

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Author Biography - David Liss

David Liss was born in 1966 and grew up in south Florida. He is currently a doctoral candidate in the Department of English at Columbia University. He lives in New York City.

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