Benjamin Weaver is awaiting death in Newgate gaol. Mysteriously convicted for a murder he didn't commit by a judge determined to see him hang, he is suddenly - and equally mysteriously - offered the means to escape.
What, you may well ask, is going on? It's a question Weaver asks of himself as he slinks out into the London night on a mission to clear his name.
In doing so, he steps straight into a labyrinthine plot that weaves, like Benjamin, across eighteenth century London.
For the conspiracy against him is part of a grimmer and gaudier picture: one that encompasses double-dealings and dockworkers, the extorting of a priest - and a looming election with the potential to spark a revolution and topple the monarchy.
Handily, Weaver is a private investigator. He's also an ex-pugilist, which is also a good thing when it comes to punching his weight in the 'polite' society of plotters and politicians, power-brokers, crime lords, assassins and spies. At the apex of which sits, rather precariously, a recent import from Hanover: The King.
- Format: Paperback
- Pages: 400 pages, 2 facsims.
- Publisher: Little, Brown Book Group
- Publication Date: 05/05/2005
- Category: Modern & contemporary fiction (post c 1945)
- ISBN: 9780349118314
Showing 1 - 3 of 3 reviews.
Review by breic2
An excellent story, better than Liss's others, about Weaver's attempts to clear his name after being set up for a murder. He gets heavily involved in politics -- an election and Jacobite plots play a big part in the story. As a mystery it is good but not great. It has a satisfying premise, which is nicely resolved at the end. However, Weaver's style of investigation is a bit unbelievable -- mostly he asks questions of strangers and they respond truthfully with everything they know.
Review by Capfox
Much can be said of the turmoil and potential for conflict that stems from elections. In fact, not a day goes by where I don't hear about some election somewhere, and how it pulls people into trying to convince, connive and manipulate. What one doesn't realize, at least here in North America, is how far and how blatant this used to go, and in that regard, David Liss's second Benjamin Weaver novel, A Spectacle of Corruption, really does stand out.Of course, that's not the main thrust of the book. Weaver, the protagonist of A Conspiracy of Paper, starts the book on trial for killing a porter, and is soon wrongly convicted. The book, then, follows Weaver on his attempts to find out who really did it, and how he can leverage this knowledge into enough influence to get his name cleared.Like the first book in the series, this one makes use of some mystery techniques - probability, among others - but it justifies them for the time well, and like the first book, most of the characters are engaging and interesting, in a complex and intricate plot that I found quite gripping. It does all get resolved fairly quickly, and there's not much of a denouement; there's also a tendency, I think, to demonize some of the characters more than necessary, but I suppose that would be common enough in the age of books that this is supposed to fit in.Liss's style is pretty good, getting one involved in Weaver's world and in his head fairly effortlessly, and there's much to be learned, as well. I did very much enjoy this one, and will look forward to reading his next book soon.
Review by EJStevens
A Spectacle of Corruption is the second memoir of ex-pugilist and private investigator, Benjamin Weaver. After a blatantly rigged trial, framing him for the murder of a man he scarcely knew, Weaver finds himself convicted of murder and sentenced to death by hanging. What follows is a harrowing escape from hellish Newgate prison and a dark journey into the grimy underbelly of 1772 London, full of poverty, violence, political intrigue and corruption. A Spectacle of Corruption is the sequel to David Liss's first novel, A Conspiracy of Paper.