Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Book Review: Stone's Fall

Stone's Fall is the latest historical mystery from Iain Pears and it is complex and cleverly written.

The novel is set in pre-World War I London, Paris and Venice. Successful and powerful financier John Stone falls to his death from a window in his London mansion, leaving his estate tied up by a mysterious legacy in his will: a bequest to a child.

His young widow, Elizabeth, hires journalist Matthew Braddock to find that child. She and John Stone did not have any children, and although he had been previously married he had no known offspring. Braddock is instructed to keep the true purpose of his investigation secret and use the ruse that Stone's widow hired him to write a biography of her late husband.

The novel is divided into 3 sections which fall in reverse chronological order. The first section is told from Braddock's point of view as he learns that the great financier's businesses were not as sound as they appeared at the time of his death. He becomes personally involved with Elizabeth as his investigation proceeds.

The second part of the story is written from the point of view of Henry Cort, a British spy, who recounts his experiences in Paris at the turn of the twentieth century.

The third part of the story is from the point of view of John Stone himself as he tells of his experiences in Venice in 1867 that involve a love affair and a scheme to develop a British torpedo.

Each part of the story provides a new and startling revelation that fill in the story of the life and death of John Stone. I did not anticipate the last one at all, but looking back over the novel I could see that the author had subtly planted the clues to it throughout the story. That's all I'm going to say, lest the ending be spoiled for any of you who decide to read the book.

Fans of Pears (An Instance of the Fingerpost) will not be disappointed in this one. A cracking good read!


Elaine said...

Went to order this on Kindle. It is priced $5 more than the paperback edition. It is not listed as being agency priced. So, I sent off a request to customer service to verify the price. So, if you want to read it on Kindle, you might wait a few days and check the price again.

Norman, OK

Quotidian Grace said...

Hmm. I read it on Kindle but probably ordered it a while back.

Price could have gone up in the wake of Apple's deal with publishers for the IPad which sets higher prices than amazon.

Anonymous said...

Almost a total waste of time. Needed to be edited, edited, edited.

Anonymous said...

This was a selection for a book club, and a poor selection at that.I skimmed the last 250 pages, and still did not miss much of the content.