Friday, June 18, 2004

catchup 2: A spectacle of Corruption

New Book Recs

You'll notice a couple new books have appeared on the right column under Recommended Reading. I just finished A Spectacle of Corruption, and recommend it and the book that precedes it (which I have yet to read).

The protagonist is Benjamin Weaver, an ex-pugilist (boxer) turned thief-taker in the early part of the eighteenth century. Thief-takers are 'law for hire' in a severely socially stratified period, when Justice is something the poor can only dream about. The story takes place in 1722 (three years after the previous book), and Weaver has been set up for murder. In spite of his proving the witnesses against him had been paid to lie, the judge instructs the jury to find him guilty, which they duly do. As he's being taking away to prison, a totally unfamiliar woman casts herself weeping into his arms, wailing at his fate and managing to pass a set of lockpicks to him.

In short order, he has liberated himself, and now faces the puzzle - one faction wants him hung and one faction wants him saved. Who are these people and why are they variously for and against him?

Going 'undercover' as a rich merchant recently returned from Jamaica, Weaver crashes the upper crust, in the midst of a parlimentary election. The election process is the Spectacle of Corruption of the title, and will remind the astute viewer of Florida, although in the modern case, the Pretender is ON the throne and not trying to gain it. (Yes, Jacobians figure into the plot.)

The milieu of the London slums is almost over-realized, in all its fetid stinking splendor. Still, Weaver is an appealing character and one in whose company you won't mind visiting the slums, especially since you fortunately will not be able to smell them.

If you like mysteries set in historic periods, this is your next book.


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