A Conspiracy of Paper, by David Liss

This is a book I wouldn’t have picked up on my own, but a friend recommended it to me, and when my e-reader broke down and I was searching for a paper book to tide me over, I gave this one a try. I’m not normally a big mystery reader, but I do enjoy an occasional historical mystery, and this one has a fascinating setting, as it’s set in early 18th century London. It has a great hero, Benjamin Weaver, an unlikely detective who becomes involved in investigating the suspicious deaths of his estranged father and another man. Weaver is a Jew who is considered an outsider by both Jewish and Christian communities; as a younger man he made his living as a prizefighter but now specializes in the recovery of stolen property, a career that takes him — and the reader — into the criminal underbelly of London society at a time when the idea of an organized police force was anathema to most Englishmen and organized crime lords ran the city pretty much however they wanted to. Benjamin discovers a whole new criminal underbelly when the murder investigation leads him into the quickly-developing world of financial speculation — the origin of the modern stock market. There’s great detail and some wonderful character development here, although the plot was so convoluted it was a little hard for me to follow at times. Liss has written two more novels featuring Weaver, and while I didn’t immediately rush out to pick them up, I might read another the next time I’m looking for a good historical mystery.

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Filed under Fiction -- historical, Fiction -- mystery

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