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Stone's Fall [Hardcover]

Iain Pears
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (78 customer reviews)

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Book Description

5 May 2009
A tour de force in the tradition of Iain Pears’ international bestseller, An Instance of the Fingerpost, Stone’s Fall weaves a story of love and high finance into the fabric of a page-turning thriller. A novel to stand alongside Atonement and The Remains of the Day.

A panoramic novel with a riveting mystery at its heart, Stone’s Fall is a quest, a love story, and a tale of murder – richly satisfying and completely engaging on many levels. It centres on the career of a very wealthy financier and the mysterious circumstances of his death, cast against the backdrop of WWI and Europe’s first great age of espionage, the evolution of high-stakes international finance and the beginning of the twentieth century’s arms race. Stone’s Fall is a major return to the thriller form that first launched Iain Pears onto bestseller lists around the world and that earned him acclaim as a mesmerizing storyteller.


Product details

  • Hardcover: 594 pages
  • Publisher: Random House of Canada Ltd (5 May 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 067697984X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0676979848
  • Product Dimensions: 16.3 x 23.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (78 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,719,818 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Iain Pears was born in 1955. He is the author of seven detective novels, a book of art history and countless articles on artistic, financial and historical subjects, and three novels, An Instance of the Fingerpost, The Dream of Scipio and The Portrait.

Product Description

Amazon Review

Stone’s Fall is another novel to add lustre to a career that has had few missteps – and it is a book that shows no signs the author’s skill is waning. Iain Pears’ writing won’t be to everyone’s taste, but isn't that true of anything of quality? This is historical crime of an intelligent order, with a wide, time-spanning canvas that moves from London in the Edwardian era to Paris and Venice.

In 1909, a rich manufacturer of weapons has purloined the concept of the torpedo from another man, one of the reasons for his fabulous wealth. But he falls to his death from a window, and his widow, the Countess Elizabeth, commissions a journalist to investigate her late husband’s life and death – with the mystifying will he left as the fulcrum. As the journalist, Braddock, digs deeper, he uncovers very little -- and fifty year pass before a remarkable revelation comes his way.

A glance at Iain Pears’ earlier novels such as An Instance of the Fingerpost and The Portrait reveals the customary impeccable craftsmanship, on display once again in the new book. With his admirable skill at matching clever plotting with strikingly drawn characters, Pears is clearly a different commodity from his contemporaries (a conclusion also demonstrated by the beguiling The Dream of Scipio, set in Provence at three key points of Western civilisation). What is most encouraging about the critical and (to some degree) the commercial success of Iain Pears’ books is the encouraging signal it sends about readers’ willingness to engage with fiction that demands more than just easy acquiescence. A novel such as Stone’s Fall will not reveal its secrets to you without a certain commitment – which is why the author is something special in a dumbed-down, Big Brother-watching world. --Barry Forshaw --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

"I cannot remember enjoying a book as much as Stone's Fall" -- Malcolm Gladwell Observer "The assurance and invention with which the novel is written are alike remarkable. Utterly absorbing and a rare delight" -- Alan Massie Scotsman "Engrossing and intelligent, it's the best sort of page-turner" -- Amber Pearson Daily Mail "A juicy mystery with lashings of period detail" Daily Telegraph "The novel is above all a romp, albeit an exceptionally intelligent and entertaining one" -- David Robson Sunday Telegraph --This text refers to the Unknown Binding edition.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
53 of 56 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars My favourite book of 2009! 24 Oct 2009
By Jackie
Format:Hardcover
Let me start by saying that this is my favourite book of 2009 so far - I was completely unprepared for how much I would love this book.

The premise is quite simple: Why did John Stone die, falling out of a window at his London home? The story is a complex mystery, beginning in London in 1909 and gradually revealing the truth by going back in time - first to Paris in 1890, and finally to Venice in 1867.

The book is cleverly constructed so that in the first section John Stone has just died and all the information about him is vague and contradictory. In the second section he becomes a character, so we begin to build a better picture of him and in the final section he is the narrator, so we finally find out the truth about his fascinating life.

"I did not want power or wealth for themselves, and did not in the slightest desire fame. But I wanted, on my death, to be able to expire feeling that my existence had made the world a different place."

This is a literary mystery, so the pace is quite slow and at nearly 600 pages it isn't a quick read, but the length was necessary to create the vivid world and fully formed characters. The astonishing twists were reminiscent of Fingersmith and I am sure I will remember this book for a very long time.

The espionage and financial aspects of the book meant that I thought it would appeal to men more than women, but while I think this is probably true, I am a woman and it is my book of the year! I admit that there were a few sections where the financial implications of events went over my head, but I was quickly brought back to the gripping plot by another development.

This book has everything - a multi-layered complex plot, fantastic characters and a compelling mystery.

Highly recommended to lovers of suspenseful literary fiction.
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23 of 24 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Masterly machinations 18 Aug 2009
By purpleheart TOP 100 REVIEWER VINE VOICE
Format:Hardcover
`The church of St Germain des Pres, at the start of what was supposed to be spring, was a miserable place, made worse by the drabness of a city still in a state of shock, worse still by the little coffin in front of the altar which was my reason for being there, worse again by the aches and pains of my body as I kneeled'.

The novel starts in 1953 and then has three separate but intertwining narratives in reverse chronological order - headed London 1909, Paris 1890 and Venice 1867. Each has its own narrator - the first is the most conventional and probably the weakest. The second is fascinating and where Pears really excels himself, the third section gives resolution.

It's an incredibly well plotted novel, I was gripped by the story from the start and the twists and turns are rooted in what we have learnt about the characters rather than being mere plot devices. It is only at the end of the third part that all becomes clear and is resolved with a final twist- if a little too neatly for this reader.

Pears has great fun with the financial and business strands within the novel - which examines the increasing power of finance and capital markets and how `the flow of capital and the generation of profit depends upon confidence. The belief that the word of a London banker is his bond'. He is obviously drawing parallels with our own time and greedy bankers and how disaster can loom when confidence is lost in credit markets. Pears is able to build suspense over these financial machinations, a new type of espionage, a fascinating lady and the fall of an immensely wealthy and quietly powerful magnate - 596 pages flew by.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An impressive novel 9 Oct 2010
By 
Format:Kindle Edition
I read An Instance Of The Fingerpost a few years back and thought that book so excellent that I could not see how Iain Pears could ever better it. In an intricate plot, four narratives essentially told the same story, but with hardly any overlap, and in one, the "fingerpost", we found out what really happened, and from someone who barely appeared in the other accounts.

The current novel uses three layers of narrative to explain the life and death of John Stone, a capitalist who runs an impressive empire of companies with one aim: the manufacture of battleships. After a brief introduction, the story opens in 1909 just after Stone's death, when a journalist, Broddick, is asked by Stone's widow to investigate a clause in his will which is holding up its execution.

The journalist digs deep and uncovers what appears to be an enormous fraud in the affairs of Stone's empire. There is also a mysterious secret agent, Cort, involved in some way but Broddick never gets to the bottom of what really happened until, on Stone's widow's death, he comes into possession of Cort's memoirs. These form the basis of the second narrative. This completely turns upside down the impression Broddick had formed of Stone's widow in part one: she was not quite what she had seemed to be. The second account covers a period before and around the marriage of Stone and encompasses the first fall of Barings Bank.

In the final part, we read Stone's own account of his affairs. I will not give anything away when I say that we are going to have our conceptions widened once again by this account.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars an excellent read
A page turner of a story right to the end. The descriptions enrich and add to the excitement of the tale.
Published 22 days ago by Judith Thorpe
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic
I was also unprepared for how amazing this book was. It was heavy-going but in a fascinating way. I can't stop thinking about it, even two years after reading it. Read more
Published 7 months ago by Dickie Harper
5.0 out of 5 stars As good as I expected
The first book I bought from Amazon a great novel by a very good writer. Will buy other work by him.
Published 7 months ago by John Pilgrim
3.0 out of 5 stars Hmmm
Not sure I'm glad to have read this. The last 20% was unputdownable but it was hard going making it to that point. Wouldn't read it again. Read more
Published 10 months ago by Samantha
3.0 out of 5 stars Too long
The book could have been 200 pages shorter. Too many tangents with too much padding which only distracts the reader. Read more
Published 10 months ago by bobbie
5.0 out of 5 stars Strangely Prescient
I bought this book having heard it discussed on the Radio 4 programme "A Good Read" - the guests spoke so highly of it, I decided to give it a go, even though it is not my... Read more
Published 12 months ago by Tors0
2.0 out of 5 stars Very disappointing
I'm a great fan of the author's earlier books of this type but have given up on this one half way through. In essence it's a bloated pastiche of a John Buchan novel. Read more
Published 12 months ago by Norman Housley
4.0 out of 5 stars gets better and better
This book deepens as it goes along. The first part was interesting, but I found the narrator's obsession with the main female character in the book a bit tiring. Read more
Published 13 months ago by marilyn vihman
5.0 out of 5 stars Complex and absorbing
I loved this book - completely absorbing and interesting. A complex story told in three different parts. Read more
Published 14 months ago by Booklover
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent
A totally absorbing story, told from the point of view of three different narrators, the mystery gradually being revealed.
Loved it.
Published 16 months ago by G. Stewart
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