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on 14 April 2000
This is the first book by Iain Pears that I have read, and I found it enjoyable. He seems to have a light style of writing, similar in some ways to Dick Francis. Some of the characterisation may have been a little thin, but didn't detract from the overall tale. A cleverly constructed plot, a good attention to detail and a sharp, humorous style (together with some well observed references to European 'unity') combined to make this an easy, satisfying read. The sort of book you could take on holiday and read by the pool - and that can be taken as a compliment! I shall be reading more of Mr Pears' novels.
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on 14 March 2004
I've never read a detective novel. I don't know why, but it has never appealed to me as a literary genre. For some reason, I picked this one up having been enticed by the dust-jacket synopsis and started reading it. From the first page, I was hooked. Unfortunately I couldn't put it down. I'd travelled miles to spend a social weekend with my family and finally spent every car journey, every evening immersed in this book.
It's true that it's not the best characterisation I've come across, but one marvels at the mastery of plot and somehow the characters redeem themselves as highly satisfactory vehicles with which to move the story on. It doesn't matter that they are a bit shadowy. With imagination one manages to give them more gravity oneself as the plot unfurls.
Wherever the writer takes us; Rome, Paris or England, the setting is perfectly expressed. I felt like I had lived through what the characters had by the end of the tale. I too was exhausted!
An intriguing plot and what is perhaps lost in characterisation is more than compensated in the storyline.
I will be reading many more books by Iain Pears. I haven't read any others by this author so if this is part of a series (as apparently it is) I don't believe it matters in the least.
I look forward to the next!
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on 24 December 2001
I've not read too many detective novels, in fact I wouldn't normally read one, let alone buy one. However I enjoyed Iain Pears's Instance at the Fingerpost so much that I thought I'd give this a spin. I can honestly say that I was glad I did so. The fact that the novel is part of a series is obvious, but it did not detract from the enjoyment of the book. The characters are well developed and (more or less) believable, the plot is strong and has plenty to keep one thinking and the descriptive and atmospheric writing is sublime.
Have I become a detective novel addict? Well the jury's still out on that. Will I buy and read more in this series? Absolutely
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on 20 August 2015
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on 9 April 2002
This is the most disappointing books I have read in ages. Maybe I expected too much after' An Instance of the Fingerpost'. This gem of a book ranks sky high on my list of all time favourites (with the Quincunx). Everything is right in this erudite novel: an intriguing, well developed plot, an interesting, well researched background, real characters.
Nothing of this all in 'The last Judgement'. Although the story in itself is passable (but not above a routine, run-of-the-mill whodunnit level), the plot is constructed in a very superficial and haphazard way. Nothing is believable in this book. The characters are of a comic book quality, two dimensional and without personality. In the plot development, coincidence is more the rule than the exception. Police officials move about internationally on their own initiative as if no procedures existed. There is no attempt at creating some atmosphere, although the world of international art trade could have offered an interesting opportunity to do so. The tone wavers in a half hearted way between the facetious, the droll and the 'society critical'.
Hard to believe this was written by the same author who signed 'The Fingerpost'. He must have written it in a great hurry. What a pity. I hope Iain Pears will one day produce work again on the level of his only masterpiece...
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on 25 May 1999
To all lovers of Pears, let me recommend another sensational author you will love: Glenn Kleier. His novel, THE LAST DAY is nothing short of brilliant and I believe you will find it just as astounding as I have. It's become my all time favorite novel and I'd like to share the great enjoyment it gave me.
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on 5 September 2008
I've got competent writer-friends who can't get their work published, who've been turned down despite innovative, professional, and quality work.

Now look what gets published (and bought) these days:

"HOWEVER flabby the conception, HOWEVER, the organizer was greatly beloved of Argyll[.]" (48)

"EVEN the body itself conformed to this pattern. Surprisingly, there was no horror; EVEN Argyll found it impossible to feel sick. The victim was fairly old, but evidently well preserved; EVEN dead - a sate which rarely brings out the best in people - he looked only in his sixties...There was not EVEN much blood to get the stomach-heaves about." (64)

"Rather lost the habit, in FACT. Quite apart from the FACT his written French was a bid dodgy." (51)

(The capitalizations are mine.)

I could go on for pages.

Don't mistake this for parallel structure. It's sheer rubbish.

If this is what you like, then don't pretend to be able to tell good from bad.
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