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The year is 1663, and the setting is Oxford, England, during the height of Restoration political intrigue. When Dr. Robert Grove is found dead in his Oxford room, hands clenched and face frozen in a rictus of pain, all the signs point to poison. Rashomon-like, the narrative circles around Grove's murder as four different characters give their version of events: Marco da Cola, a visiting Italian physician--or so he would like the reader to believe; Jack Prestcott, the son of a traitor who fled the country to avoid execution; Dr. John Wallis, a mathematician and cryptographer with a predilection for conspiracy theories; and Anthony Wood, a mild-mannered Oxford antiquarian whose tale proves to be the book's "instance of the fingerpost." (The quote comes from the philosopher Bacon, who, while asserting that all evidence is ultimately fallible, allows for "one instance of a fingerpost that points in one direction only, and allows of no other possibility.")
Like The Name of the Rose, this is one whodunit in which the principal mystery is the nature of truth itself. Along the way, Pears displays a keen eye for period details as diverse as the early days of medicine, the convoluted politics of the English Civil War, and the newfangled fashion for wigs. Yet Pears never loses sight of his characters, who manage to be both utterly authentic denizens of the 17th century and utterly authentic human beings. As a mystery, An Instance of the Fingerpost is entertainment of the most intelligent sort; as a novel of ideas, it proves equally satisfying. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
I have to write more in order to publish this review, but I'll just say this is one of the best books I've ever read.
I particularly liked the way that Pears told the story from four different viewpoints, the last being an instance of the fingerpost.
If you like historical mysteries or historical fiction, or even the history of medicine, I highly recommend this book to you.
disappointed about about quality of book! Low quality paper,binding, small font and book sizePublished 17 days ago by David McLean
A one of a kind work. The same tale told four times from the point of view of four of the main characters in the tale.Published 20 days ago by Calvin W. Kline, jr.
This book, which is considered Pears' masterpiece, was very disappointing, in my view. Conceptually, the book is clever, telling essentially the same story from four different... Read morePublished 2 months ago by Howardeagle
I had read and enjoyed several of Pears' smaller mysteries, involving art, forgeries and museum mayhem, and always enjoyed them. Read morePublished 2 months ago by ZanninVT
I'm very happy with the book. It was a great price and in excellent condition! I would patronize this site again.Published 4 months ago by Mary Rose Ventura
Like all Pears books, this one sucks you into a world seen from multiple perspectives. Where lies truth? Read them all.Published 5 months ago by Donald R. Emery
This is the second Pears novel I've read, the first being "Stone's Fall". Although I liked "Fingerpost", it is a long and difficult read. Read morePublished 5 months ago by J
I did not think I would like this book but it came highly recommended by a friend. It is great! Hard to believe how the same story can take four different turns.Published 6 months ago by RCB-Texas
Found the author a little verbose. Could have reduced pages by 25%.
Interesting use of four different perspectives of the same events.