Lucy Derrick is a young woman of good breeding and poor finances. After the death of her beloved father, she is forced to maintain a shabby dignity as the unwanted boarder of her tyrannical uncle, fending off marriage to a local mill owner. But just as she is on the cusp of accepting a life of misery, events take a stunning turn when a handsome stranger—the poet and notorious rake Lord Byron—arrives at her house, stricken by what seems to be a curse, and with a cryptic message for Lucy. Suddenly her unfortunate circumstances are transformed in ways at once astonishing and seemingly impossible.
With the world undergoing an industrial transformation, and with England on the cusp of revolution, Lucy is drawn into a dangerous conspiracy in which her life, and her country’s future, are in the balance. Inexplicably finding herself at the center of cataclysmic events, Lucy is awakened to a world once unknown to her: where magic and mortals collide, and the forces of ancient nature and modern progress are at war for the soul of England… and the world. The key to victory may be connected to a cryptic volume whose powers of enchantment are unbounded. Now, challenged by ruthless enemies with ancient powers at their command, Lucy must harness newfound mystical skills to prevent catastrophe and preserve humanity’s future. And enthralled by two exceptional men with designs on her heart, she must master her own desires to claim the destiny she deserves.
With The Whiskey Rebels, David Liss added to the rapidly growing audience for his extraordinary brand of historical suspense fiction. His unforgettable tale of spies and conspiracies in post-Revolutionary War America was a 'gripping, visceral adventure,' according to New York Times bestselling author Matthew Pearl. Now Liss delivers another riveting historical suspense tale – this one set in 1700s London.
When Benjamin Weaver is blackmailed into stealing documents from the ruthless British East India Company, he soon discovers the theft of trade secrets is only the first move in a daring conspiracy within the eighteenth century's most powerful corporation. To save his friends and family, Weaver must infiltrate the Company, navigate its warring factions, and uncover a secret plot of corporate rivals, foreign spies, and government operatives. With the security of the nation in the balance, Weaver will find himself in a labyrinth of hidden agendas, daring enemies, and unexpected allies.
With explosive action and scrupulous period research, The Devil's Company depicts the birth of the modern corporation, and is Liss's most impressive achievement yet.
This sequel to Liss's Edgar Award-winning A Conspiracy of Paper (2000) brings back ex-pugilist Benjamin Weaver and his 18th-century London environs in all their squalid glory. Benjamin has become a "thieftaker," a sort of bounty hunter/private eye, and is investigating the simple case of a threatening letter when he is caught up in a riot, accused of murder and sentenced to hang. After a gutsy escape, he sets about unraveling the mystery of who framed him and why. Donning the disguise of a wealthy coffee planter from Jamaica, Benjamin infiltrates the upper classes, where he encounters a plot centering on a hotly contested House of Commons election. There is much explanation (perhaps too much) of the history and philosophies of the Whig, Tory and Jacobite parties, but this is nicely balanced with Benjamin's forays into London's underbelly, where he has his way with the ladies and dodges dangerous louts looking to kill him. The real fun is the re-creation of the streets of London ("He fell into the alley's filth-the kennel of emptied chamber pots, bits of dead dogs gnawed on by hungry rats, apple cores and oyster shells") and the colorful denizens thereof. Many hours are spent in innumerable coffeehouses, with Benjamin and company imbibing coffee, chocolate, ale, wine and that great destroyer of the poor, rotgut gin, and employing such useful swear words as "shitten stick," "arse pot" and "bum firking." Mystery and mainstream readers with a taste for gritty historical fiction will relish Liss's glorious dialogue, lively rogues, fascinating setting and indomitable hero. (Mar.) Forecast: The many readers who loved Liss's first book have been eagerly awaiting a sequel. Booksellers can recommend both of the Benjamin Weaver books to those who enjoy Bruce Alexander's Sir John Fielding mystery series. Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Having survived the dangerous intrigues and nefarious plots surrounding his father's death and the business of the South Sea Company (A Conspiracy of Paper), Benjamin Weaver, former pugilist and thief taker extraordinaire, is once again plunged into the world of electioneering and political corruption in Georgian London. This time, he seeks to clear his name and save his own life after being wrongly accused of killing a dock worker. Forced to assume the disguise of a Jamaican tobacco plantation owner, he moves from the drawing rooms of Westminster to the hovels of Wapping in search of the true murderer, uncovering corruption at all levels, from perjured witnesses to bribed judges to treasonous Jacobites. While it does not resonate as richly as A Conspiracy of Paper, this novel will still delight readers with its picture of a London familiar to fans of Boswell and Defoe. [Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 11/1/03.]-Cynthia Johnson, Cary Memorial Lib., Lexington, MA Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
With eloquent wit, Liss manipulates the concepts of misdirection and probability theory in his serpentine third novel (after The Coffee Trader, 2003). Once again, we meet the unconventional protagonist of the author's Edgar-winning debut A Conspiracy of Paper (2000). "Thief-taker," retired prizefighter, and Jew Benjamin Weaver, as resourceful a former rogue as ever, is in peril again-falsely convicted and sentenced to hang for the murder of a dockworker and labor leader whom he barely knew. The year is 1722, and London is abuzz over England's first General Election, vigorously contested by conservative Tories who support Hanoverian King George I and antiroyalist Whigs, who may or may not be in league with Jacobites plotting the restoration of deposed "Pretender" James II of Scotland. Weaver escapes from Newgate Prison (in a marvelously detailed sequence), and, while laboring to clear his name, assumes multiple disguises and forms affiliations with several members of London's political, ecclesiastical, and criminal elites. These include the woman he loves unrequitedly, his cousin's widow Miriam, and her husband, Whig Parliamentary candidate Griffin Melbury; duplicitous parish priest Christopher Ufford (in whose service suspicion for murder had fallen on Weaver); brutal tobacco merchant Dennis Dogsmill and his fetching sister Grace, and numerous other power brokers and ruffians whose allegiances and very identities are seldom what they seem. The dazzling plot, which grows steadily more intricate and circuitous, turns on the allegation that "there [is] a Tory spy among the Whigs," and the likelihood that Weaver's victimization is connected to the election that the charismatic Melburyblithely characterizes as "a spectacle of corruption." Liss's impressive research provides a wealth of information about 18th-century politics, emergent labor organizations, and gradations of etiquette and malfeasance among contrasting social levels. And Weaver's somber, wry, knowing narrator's voice is a deadpan delight. Furthermore, it all ends with yet another twist that seems to promise we'll hear more from-and of-the indefatigable Benjamin Weaver. Let's hope so.
David Liss's bestselling historical thrillers, including A Conspiracy of Paper and The Coffee Trader, have been called remarkable and rousing: the perfect combination of scrupulous research and breathless excitement. Now Liss delivers his best novel yet in an entirely new setting – America in the years after the Revolution, an unstable nation where desperate schemers vie for wealth, power, and a chance to shape a country's destiny.
Ethan Saunders, once among General Washington's most valued spies, now lives in disgrace, haunting the taverns of Philadelphia. An accusation of treason has long since cost him his reputation and his beloved fiancée, Cynthia Pearson, but at his most desperate moment he is recruited for an unlikely task – finding Cynthia's missing husband. To help her, Saunders must serve his old enemy, Treasury Secretary Alexander Hamilton, who is engaged in a bitter power struggle with political rival Thomas Jefferson over the fragile young nation's first real financial institution: the Bank of the United States.
Meanwhile, Joan Maycott is a young woman married to another Revolutionary War veteran. With the new states unable to support their ex-soldiers, the Maycotts make a desperate gamble: trade the chance of future payment for the hope of a better life on the western Pennsylvania frontier. There, amid hardship and deprivation, they find unlikely friendship and a chance for prosperity with a new method of distilling whiskey. But on an isolated frontier, whiskey is more than a drink; it is currency and power, and the Maycotts' success attracts the brutal attention of men in Hamilton 's orbit, men who threaten to destroy all Joan holds dear.
As their causes intertwine, Joan and Saunders – both patriots in their own way – find themselves on opposing sides of a daring scheme that will forever change their lives and their new country. The Whiskey Rebels is a superb rendering of a perilous age and a nation nearly torn apart – and David Liss's most powerful novel yet.
Liss's first novel, A Conspiracy of Paper, was sketched on the wide canvas of 18th-century London 's multilayered society. This one, in contrast, is set in the confined world of 17th-century Amsterdam 's immigrant Jewish community. Liss makes up the difference in scale with ease, establishing suspense early on. Miguel Lienzo escaped the Inquisition in Portugal and lives by his wits trading commodities. He honed his skills in deception during years of hiding his Jewish identity in Portugal, so he finds it easy to engage in the evasions and bluffs necessary for a trader on Amsterdam 's stock exchange. While he wants to retain his standing in the Jewish community, he finds it increasingly difficult to abide by the draconian dictates of the Ma'amad, the ruling council. Which is all the more reason not to acknowledge his longing for his brother's wife, with whom he now lives, having lost all his money in the sugar trade. Miguel is delighted when a sexy Dutch widow enlists him as partner in a secret scheme to make a killing on "coffee fruit," an exotic bean little known to Europeans in 1659. But she may not be as altruistic as she seems. Soon Miguel is caught in a web of intricate deals, while simultaneously fending off a madman desperate for money, and an enemy who uses the Ma'amad to make Miguel an outcast. Each player in this complex thriller has a hidden agenda, and the twists and turns accelerate as motives gradually become clear. There's a central question, too: When men manipulate money for a living, are they then inevitably tempted to manipulate truth and morality?
No one is more surprised than Lem Altick when it turns out he's actually good at peddling encyclopedias door to door. He hates the predatory world of sales, but he needs the money to pay for college. Then things go horribly wrong. In a sweltering trailer in rural Florida, a couple Lem has spent hours pitching to is shot dead before his eyes, and the unassuming young man is suddenly pulled into the dark world of conspiracy and murder. Not just murder: assassination – or so claims the killer, the mysterious and strangely charismatic Melford Kean, who has struck without remorse and with remarkable good cheer. But the self-styled ethical assassin hadn't planned on a witness, and so he makes Lem a deal: Stay quiet and there will be no problems. Go to the police and take the fall.
Before Lem can decide, he is drawn against his will into the realm of the assassin, a post-Marxist intellectual with whom he forms an unlikely (and perhaps unwise) friendship. The ethical assassin could be a charming sociopath, eco-activist, or vigilante for social justice. Lem isn't sure what is motivating Melford, but Lem realizes that to save himself, he must unravel the mystery of why the assassinations have occurred. To do so, he descends deeper into a bizarre world he never knew existed, where a group of desperate schemers are involved in a plot that could keep Lem from leaving town alive.