Constant Reader
Buy the paperback  Buy the paperback
 
Back to the Jack Maggs discussion
 
 Topic: 
       JACK MAGGS: an aside (1 of 6), Read 65 times 
  Conf: 
       CONSTANT READER 
 From: 
       Bob Markiewicz (bob markiewicz@aol.com) 
  Date: 
       Tuesday, February 29, 2000 01:34 PM 


Early on in JACK MAGGS, there is much talk about "thief takers" and
the name Jonathan Wild is mentioned. If I hadn't recently read David
Liss' new and heavily promoted A CONSPIRACY OF PAPER, I'd probably
be totally clueless.

Perhaps one of our correspondents across the pond will elaborate on
the little I know and repeat here, but thief takers were more or less
bounty hunters, as the name might suggest, but were pretty much
criminals themselves, controlling large bands of thugs and associates.
Thief takers collected rewards from both the government and the
injured party. Jonathan Wild, who is mentioned in JM, actually existed
and is considered to be the first modern crime lord. Wild figures
prominently as a villain in CONSPIRACY.

The protagonist of David Liss' first novel, A CONSPIRACY OF PAPER, is
Benjamin Weaver,a "thief-taker" himself, in London, 1719. Weaver is an
ex-pugilist, a Jew estranged from his family and religion in anti-Semitic
London. 

Weaver is approached by a gentleman who believes his father, a
supposed suicide, was, in fact murdered and believes the Weaver's
own father, who was run down by a cart, was also murdered as the
result of a conspiracy involving finances.

PAPER's major appeal will be to fans of historical detective fiction, as
the novel is along the lines of THE ALIENIST. While Weaver, "The Lion
of Judeah" is beautifully drawn, the real star of Diss' work is eighteenth
century London, a dark, dirty and dangerous place. In fact,
CONSPIRACY OF PAPER is based on an actual event, the first stock
market crash, which was called "The South Sea Bubble" and the early
market, Exchange Alley, and the way it
worked is a key component. Many of the scenes in the novel involve
anti-Semitism (Jews were the earliest traders) and are crueler and
more harrowing than the suspense or crime scenes are.

Diss is a doctoral candidate at Columbia and is currently doing his
dissertation on mid-eighteen century English literature and finance.
Along with being a terrific historical novel, Diss also gives the reader a
portrait of a world of money that very much parallels today's volatile
financial markets.

A fascinating and entertaining book.

BOB


Topic: JACK MAGGS: an aside (2 of 6), Read 52 times Conf: CONSTANT READER From: Ian Marks (comfortably_numb@ecosse.net) Date: Tuesday, February 29, 2000 03:04 PM Gee Bob -- You've told me more than I ever knew about thief-takers, and I live on the proper side of the pond! Ian
Topic: JACK MAGGS: an aside (3 of 6), Read 52 times Conf: CONSTANT READER From: Bob Markiewicz (bob markiewicz@aol.com) Date: Tuesday, February 29, 2000 03:29 PM On 2/29/00 3:04:17 PM, Ian Marks wrote: >Gee Bob -- > >You've told me more than I >ever knew about thief-takers, >and I live on the proper side >of the pond! > >Ian > Diss does a great job on this subject I never knew a thing about, credit him, including some interesting historic notes at the end that expand on several topics. I'll be curious to see what the UK response on this novel is. Early eighteen century is rarely used as a setting, we always seem to get Victorian London. BOB
Topic: JACK MAGGS: an aside (4 of 6), Read 43 times Conf: CONSTANT READER From: Ian Marks (comfortably_numb@ecosse.net) Date: Friday, March 03, 2000 03:47 PM Bob -- Far as I know, JM went down pretty well over here. Much was made of the Dickens slant; some dug it, some didn't. Howzat for a review? Ian
Topic: JACK MAGGS: an aside (5 of 6), Read 46 times Conf: CONSTANT READER From: Bob Markiewicz (bob markiewicz@aol.com) Date: Friday, March 03, 2000 03:56 PM Nice and terse. BOB
Topic: JACK MAGGS: an aside (6 of 6), Read 32 times Conf: CONSTANT READER From: Dottie Randall (randallj@ix.netcom.com) Date: Thursday, March 16, 2000 12:44 PM Just to get back to A Conspiracy of Paper -- sounds like a fascinating read, Bob, and it goes on the TBR list! I particularly enjoy fiction tinged with or even heavily laced with historical info. Having enjoyed The Alienist a great deal and having just raced through An Instance of the Fingerpost with the group here, this one is a natural! Dottie ID is an oxymoron!

 


 

 
Search:
Keywords:
In Association with Amazon.com
www.000webhost.com