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I blush to own I rewarded his efforts to seek my opinion with only a formal reply in which I dismissed his ideas as nonsensical. I did so in part because I did not wish to involve myself with my family and in part because I knew that my uncle, for reasons that eluded me, had loved my father and could not accept the senselessness of so random a death.But then Benjamin is hired by two different men to solve two seemingly unrelated cases. One client, Mr. Balfour, claims his own father's unexpected death "was made to look like self-murder so that a villain or villains could take his money with impunity," and even suggests there might be a link between Balfour senior's death and that of Weaver's father. His next customer is Sir Owen Nettleton, an aristocrat who is keen to recover some highly confidential papers that were stolen from him while he cavorted with a prostitute. Weaver takes on the first case with some reluctance, the second with more enthusiasm. In the end, both converge, leading him back to his family even as they take him deep into the underbelly of London's financial markets.
Liss seems right at home in the world he's created, whether describing the company manners of wealthy Jewish merchants at home or the inner workings of Exchange Alley--the 18th-century version of Wall Street. His London is a dank and filthy place, almost lawless but for the scant protection offered by such rogues as Jonathan Wilde, the sinister head of a gang of thieves who profits by selling back to their owners items stolen by his own men. Though better connected socially, the investors involved with the shady South Sea Company have equally larcenous hearts, and Liss does an admirable job of leading the reader through the intricacies of stock trading, bond selling, and insider trading with as little fuss, muss, and confusion as possible. What really makes the book come alive, however, are the details of 18th-century life--from the boxing matches our hero once participated in to the coffee houses, gin joints, and brothels where he trolls for clues. And then there is the matter of Weaver's Jewishness, the prejudices of the society he lives in, and his struggle to come to terms with his own ethnicity. A Conspiracy of Paper weaves all these themes together in a manner reminiscent of the long, gossipy novels of Henry Fielding and Laurence Stern. Indeed, Liss manages to suggest the prose style of those authors while keeping his own, less convoluted style. This is one conspiracy guaranteed to succeed. --Alix Wilber --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
David Liss's first historical and debut novel (for which he won the Edgar) is a wonderful look into the life and beginnings of the stock market and the value of paper, as in money... Read morePublished 26 days ago by S. Warfield
Not as great as Coffee Trader, but still good historical fiction about a fascinating period.Published 1 month ago by Marilyn C
The further I got into this novel, the more I felt like I did when I read The Crying of Lot 49 - as it unfolds, the plot feels like it gets more complex and not less so, with a lot... Read morePublished 1 month ago by D. Carman
This is a terrific book. I enjoyed it very much and learned a lot. I really enjoy the works of David LIss.Published 1 month ago by Lynne D
As far as historical fiction goes, this is about as good as it gets. I give it 4.5 stars - rounding down to 4 since Amazon doesn't let us do fractional scoring (why o why). Read morePublished 1 month ago by Jeffrey Ellis
It is a great pleasure to read a historical novel that is truly steeped in the language, architecture, society, and customs of the period. Read morePublished 1 month ago by Montana Mackay