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Conspiracy of Paper Paperback – 3 May 2001

4.4 out of 5 stars 18 customer reviews

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Paperback, 3 May 2001
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Product details

  • Paperback: 512 pages
  • Publisher: Abacus; New Ed edition (3 May 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 034911420X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0349114200
  • Product Dimensions: 12.6 x 3 x 19.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 199,949 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description


.....a tale of eighteenth century finance, murder and religion that is a remarkable debut and a thoroughly satisfying novel (Arthur Golden, author of MEMOIRS OF A GEISHA)

A tremendously smart, assured and entertaining novel; an intricate mystery, a colourful rogues' gallery and, improbably, a history lesson on the birth of the stock market (NEWSWEEK)

An evocation of English history that you can happily get lost in for days. (NEW YORK TIMES)

...Adroitly plotted and related with a good deal of panache (SUNDAY TELEGRAPH)

Deft financial suspense that sets Liss's book apart from the run-of-the-mill historical novel (TIMES)

Book Description

A garrulous prostitute. A Jewish boxer. The mysterious death of a father ... and the origins of the modern stock market.

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Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
In David Liss's Conspiracy of Paper Benjamin Weaver is a Jew, a former boxer, and an outsider in a vividly realized eighteenth-century London, tracking down debtors and felons for aristocratic clients. As an outsider he can traverse society by mixing both in the criminal milieu of Newgate Prison where 'conditions are not fit for any creature that bears the name human' to the rarified gentleman's clubs where crime may be committed by the gentry in the name of financial greed.
Although the son of a wealthy Jewish stock trader, Weaver's past and his abandoning of his faith has left him estranged from his family until he asked to investigate his father's suspicious and sudden death.
Thus he descends into the world of English stock jobbers, coffee houses and Exchange Alley [a contemporary ballad summed up the 'change as a place to 'see and hear the Jews and Gentiles squabble' Here he witnesses the murky financial dealings that lead to the disastrous 'South Sea Bubble' To a man of Portuguese Jewish ancestry these encounters serve to reinforce his status as an outsider, highlighting strict divisions of class and caste. The more Weaver uncovers, the darker his world becomes, not unlike Philip Marlowe, he walks alone.
This is a painstaking evocation of a London peopled with 'rogues, prigs, Mohocks and whores who practice baser street deceptions as the 'buttock and twang' Moreover, to add to authenticity Liss introduces historical characters such Jonathan Wild -the model for Peachum in Gay's Beggars Opera
Overall, Conspiracy of Paper is both a historical thriller and a scholarly introduction to eighteenth century English society where financial and criminal systems often seem interchangeable. It is never 'dry' in its explanation of finance and never wanders down in to that world of 'cod' language so often used by historical thriller writers. A highly recommended debut novel.
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By taking a rest HALL OF FAME on 27 Dec. 2002
Format: Paperback
I generally avoid comparing the work of one author with that of another. But as this is the debut of Mr. David Liss, a reference point or two may be of help. If the writing of Mr. Charles Palliser is to your liking, or that of Mr. Iain Pears, or perhaps Ms. Tracy Chevalier, this book will earn its place on the your shelf.

The book is excellent, and although its story occupies a time that is not unfamiliar, Mr. Liss has brought a style that is his own. His characters have depth; they do not imitate others drawn in another's book.

The dialogue is well constructed, reads naturally, and together with the narration, Mr. Liss and company leads you through a labyrinth of a plot, tempt you with false leads, and pull the carpet out just as you thought you were drawing together the threads. Not a chance, the author anticipates the reader's moves, and misleads and deceives through a truly wonderful tale!

History, twistery, truth, lies, or mystery? It is all here, brilliantly written by a novelist that is destined for many great books that I look forward to.

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By A man on 15 April 2011
Format: Paperback
I had great hopes for this novel. The cover, and blurb, implied just the right amount of artifice would be used to convey the reader effortlessly into the ways of seventeenth century London, and spin a yarn that would hold the attention without stretching credulity.

Mind you, I had picked the book up not on any particular recommendation but because it was the least uninspiring I was able to find at an expatriate car boot sale in Spain. I was on holiday, hadn't brought enough to read, but found it slightly disconcerting that out of hundreds of tattered volumes on offer, this was the only one that stood out.

I read it, and enjoyed learning a little about the South Sea Bubble. I resolved to find out more about the history of the company that had been formed to exploit trading opportunities in the one part of the world - South America - where British interests were mostly absent. I found it doubly intriguing, from the vantage point of 2010, that the author could talk of the crisis of the moment, in the 1760`s, as being one of Sovereign debt, threatening default, with borrowing on an unsustainable scale and interest payments proving difficult to meet!

Sadly, however, despite the author's best efforts, his grasp of the vernacular was poor. It would be hard to imagine a less convincing display of the way people conversed in seventeenth century London than what Liss gives us, whether in pubs, clubs, private houses or on the streets. Harder still, though, would be to imagine anyone from that era thinking, or reflecting, in the way his hero does. On a recurring basis, he bemoans the foulness of the air, the detritus underfoot, the unsavoury nature of life and the harrowing insecurity of every moment, as if they were all he had to attend to.
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Format: Paperback
When we are faced with a main character like Ben Weaver, involved in performing tasks like the ones mentioned in the title of this review, we know we are in for a great ride. David Liss does not disappoint us and delivers on this implicit promise, clearly showing his gifts as a writer in the process. The author presents a highly interesting historical novel, with an intricate plot, and full of twists that will leave the readers guessing until the end. The fact that he deals with the financial markets and concepts like probability in the eighteenth century, added to the attractiveness of the story for me, since these are topics with which I have been involved throughout my studies and in my current job.
It is an era of turmoil in England; King James has been deposed and is supported by France. This is the ideal setting for criminals to operate, since confusion reigns in the country. Ben Weaver is a Jew who left his father's home and changed his name a few years ago and had a brief moment of fame as a pugilist. Now he sustains himself by working as hired help in various enterprises, most of them dealing with helping people that have fallen victims of illegal acts. Weaver, whose real name is Lienzo (those who read "The Coffee Trader" will recognize the name), tells the story that starts with a murder of sorts in which he was involved. He was trying to recover the pocketbook of Sir Owen and when faced with a murderer his only option was to strike back and kill him.
Most of the thefts in the city are orchestrated or supervised by a character named Wild, who has all kinds of ruffians working for him and who offers services similar to the ones Weaver offers.
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