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The Coffee Trader: A Novel (Ballantine Reader's Circle) Paperback – February 3, 2004
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From Publishers Weekly
Liss's first novel, A Conspiracy of Paper, was sketched on the wide canvas of 18th-century London's multilayered society. This one, in contrast, is set in the confined world of 17th-century Amsterdam's immigrant Jewish community. Liss makes up the difference in scale with ease, establishing suspense early on. Miguel Lienzo escaped the Inquisition in Portugal and lives by his wits trading commodities. He honed his skills in deception during years of hiding his Jewish identity in Portugal, so he finds it easy to engage in the evasions and bluffs necessary for a trader on Amsterdam's stock exchange. While he wants to retain his standing in the Jewish community, he finds it increasingly difficult to abide by the draconian dictates of the Ma'amad, the ruling council. Which is all the more reason not to acknowledge his longing for his brother's wife, with whom he now lives, having lost all his money in the sugar trade. Miguel is delighted when a sexy Dutch widow enlists him as partner in a secret scheme to make a killing on "coffee fruit," an exotic bean little known to Europeans in 1659. But she may not be as altruistic as she seems. Soon Miguel is caught in a web of intricate deals, while simultaneously fending off a madman desperate for money, and an enemy who uses the Ma'amad to make Miguel an outcast. Each player in this complex thriller has a hidden agenda, and the twists and turns accelerate as motives gradually become clear. There's a central question, too: When men manipulate money for a living, are they then inevitably tempted to manipulate truth and morality?
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Library Journal
His A Conspiracy of Paper having won the 2000 Edgar Award for Best First Novel, Liss returns with another tale of historical intrigue. In 1600s Amsterdam, Portuguese Jew Miguel Lienzo ignores the strictures of his community and joins forces with a Dutchwoman to capture the coffee market.
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Top customer reviews
The book takes place in seventeenth century Holland not long after the Dutch had gotten out from under their Spanish overlords. This was the time of huge changes in commerce. The Dutch developed new methods of trade including the joint stock company, commodities markets, futures, stocks, and many other forms of speculative trading.
The book makes me admire the Dutch even more, and think about what it means to say “it’s not personal, it’s just business”.
Liss is a fabulous writer, and the setting is sublime. I wish it hadn't been a financial mystery, because of all the thousands of things I'm interested in, stocks and trading and economics are not among them, and Liss goes no half measure --there is a lot of talk about trading and the consequences of actions in the market etc. Those parts were a struggle for me, but I wouldn't hesitate to recommend this exciting novel to anyone who likes historical fiction, the Netherlands, coffee, character thrillers, finance and trade, or just a good story.
at my book club i said i thought it was not a very good book, but it would make a great movie. the last fourth of the book has so many twists and turns. the book, for me, created a dislike for the main character with shifting feelings rather than building tension that the ending deserved.