5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
An Awesome Achievement!,
This review is from: An Instance of the Fingerpost (Mass Market Paperback)
An Instance of the Fingerpost now stands (after two readings) as simply the best book I have ever read... and I read a LOT of books.
Pears' work is simply stunning in its' complexity - not only does he obviously know the history of England of 300 years ago, he understands the stories behind that history. To hook the modern reader, he has created a murder mystery that is, in many ways, the basis of the story... but is in reality only a prop to wrap a far more detailed story around. The book is divided into four parts, each told from a different character's point of view, and each conflicting with the others. All of the characters "know" what happened... and you, as the reader, believe them... until you are shown to be wrong. And wrong again. And again. When you are finally certain that you now know the facts of the case, and who committed the murder and why, well, you're still wrong... until the end, where you finally DO learn the truth of the story.
Beyond the murder mystery, though, there are wonderous twists of politics and science, religion and medicine, and secrets within secrets.
Most impressively, Pears has managed to keep track of dozens of different characters, placing them in each narrator's testimony as being in the same places... but for differing motives, or, in some cases, showing how and why one or more of the narrators might have been mistaken about who or what he saw. Nothing and no one is what they seem, but absolutely everything is tied up neatly and explained. One of the book-blurb reviewers, as I recall, described the book as an intricate tapestry, all the more impressive and unbelievably well-crafted the deeper one studied it. I can't top that as an explanation of the fascinating web Mr. Pears has woven.
If your familiarity with Pears' work is through his "Art History Mystery" series, forget all that... those are fine fluff, but Fingerpost is a masterpiece as surely as any VerMeer or DaVinci.
I cannot recommend this novel highly enough.