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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 the Paperback edition.
I have to hate a book that makes me give up on it - the only other book I ever dumped was Tolstoy's War and Peace. Read morePublished 23 hours ago by The Honey Monster
Great book, suspenseful and felt very current. Maybe a bit long but otherwise good.Published 2 months ago by Jess Roussos
The book arrived on time and in perfect condition. A great read as well. History and mystery all thtown in togetherPublished 2 months ago by el39
1663, and England is bursting with intrigue and civil strife. When an Oxford don is murdered, it seems at first that the incident can have nothing to do with great matters of... Read morePublished 3 months ago by D. Cook
Set in 1660s Oxford, this is the sort of book that draws you in. ‘Atmospheric’ is the best word to describe this novel about a woman who is (perhaps unjustly) tried and hung for... Read morePublished 4 months ago by Victoria Craven
An enjoyable, layered mystery set largely in Restoration Oxford - but somehow the story did not quite work, for me. Read morePublished 4 months ago by Pelagius
I was so dazzled by Pears' outstanding novel ‘The Dream of Scipio’ that I ordered a copy of ‘Fingerpost ’and, perhaps inevitably, it suffered by comparison, though I read it with... Read morePublished 7 months ago by Gervase T. M. Shorter