Monday, August 15, 2005

24. A Conspiracy of Paper by David Liss

A Conspiracy of Paper book pictureMy dad lent me this because he wanted to know what I "thought about it." This worried me, but he assured me that it was an entertaining read and he was correct. It's kind of a heroic adventure (almost pulp) novel taking place in early 18th century england, when the modern notion of money and markets was just starting to develop. The hero is a jewish ex-boxer who has set himself up as a sort of Rennaisance bounty hunter, hunting down criminals and returning stolen material. It's a great idea, because the period is full of fantastic adventure potential. From the perspective of an entertaining read, it's pretty well executed. The plot is engaging and the characters, especially the hero, are well drawn out. There's lots of satisfying butt-kicking and revenge-getting. The plot becomes a bit overly complex and its mystery dependent more on many others holding out information rather than any real detective work. The author did some study in the field and knows the period well, but the language, the thinking and a lot of the goings-on in the book seem just a bit too contemporary. Probably it had to be done to make a rollicking adventure, but I guess I would have liked just a bit more detail and period verisimillitude. Compared, for instance, to Neal Stephenson's portrayal of the same period in his recent trilogy, A Conspiracy of Paper seems simplified, as if written for a poorly educated audience (i.e. the American book-buying public). Still, tons of fun and I'd definitely recommend it for a vacation read.

1 comment:

Jarrett said...

I've been carrying a copy of this book on my shelves for three apartments now. I hadn't realized you read it. I was putting it off for other books, and saving it for a lull (that has never seemed to materialize).

Isn't this part of a trilogy?