ISBN is

978-0-375-76089-1 / 037576089X

A Spectacle of Corruption: A Novel

by Liss, David

Publisher:Ballantine Books

Edition:Softcover

Language:English

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About the book:

"I sentence you, Mr. Weaver, to be hanged for the most horrible crime of murder." Hearing that judicial decree, Benjamin Weaver--former pugilist, current "thief-taker," and future master of disguise--begins one of the sorriest days of his life. And things will only get worse, as David Liss reveals in A Spectacle of Corruption, his exuberant novel of 18th-century political chicanery. Tossed into Londons notorious Newgate Prison, Weaver employs his considerable energy and guile (plus tools slipped to him by a mysterious admirer at his trial) to escape--naked--into the city's filthy streets. But then, he risks recapture by trying to figure out who framed him for slaying labor agitator Walter Yate, and why.

How all of this trouble derived from Weaver's pursuit of the culprit behind a priests recent spate of hate mail propels the balance of this yarn--the sequel to Liss's Edgar Award-winning debut novel, A Conspiracy of Paper. It also pushes the Jewish "ruffian-for-hire" into the jeopardous midst of a British power struggle that pits supporters of King George I against the Jacobites, who favor the return of his dethroned Catholic rival, James II. Assisted by his puckish surgeon friend Elias Gordon, Weaver assumes the role of a prosperous plantation owner from Jamaica and penetrates the upper echelons of 1722 London society, hoping to gather information he can use against Dennis Dogmill, a "vicious and unpredictable" tobacco man who may actually have ordained Yate's killing. As Weaver ranges through London's fetid pubs and fancy theaters, and attracts the amorous attention of Dogmill's surprisingly shrewd sister, he also finds himself in the uncomfortable position of backing Griffin Melbury, a Tory candidate for the House of Commons--and the man who stole away his beloved Miriam Lienzo.

Liss has a keen eye for entertaining details of Georgian life, from that periods exotic diction ("The men in your gang are nothing but cutpurses and mollies and buggerantos") to its most reprehensible pastimes, including "goose pulling"--about which the less said, the better. And though some readers may bog down in the explained distinctions between Whigs and Tories, the author finds considerable humor in that political rivalry and the parties' get-out-the-vote efforts. Once you accept the rather dubious notion that fugitive Weaver could hide in plain sight, A Spectacle of Corruption can be appreciated as the lusty thriller Liss clearly intended it to be. --J. Kingston Pierce

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