I finished A Conspiracy of Paper by David Liss a while ago and still haven’t been able to decide whether or not I liked it. It’s basically about the prelude to the first financial bubble in London, which is where the stock markets first began to develop back in the early 18th century.
As a novel, the book is part historical mystery and part Intro to Financial Markets for Morons (Wait!! You mean when you tell people the stock is going to go up they start to buy?!? Like that.) with a little romance thrown in for good measure. And while it doesn’t manage to present a particularly compelling mystery nor does it serve to educate at any level that would be useful (the romance is so poorly done, it’s not even worth mentioning again), a quick pace and eventful plot keeps the book from becoming mired in its (numerous) shortcomings. My instinct was to dislike the book, but somehow it managed to keep my interest and wasn’t unenjoyable.
So, yeah, the writing isn’t anything special. And no, the characters herein would never finangle their way into any Literary Hall of Fame. And yeah, you have to really strech reality to believe that this bumbling bully would ever really manage to unravel any sort of mystery without getting himself killed (the villians in the book just hand him information). But hey — it’s a good subway read and divides up neatly into 20-minute chunks. Three (maybe two-and-a-half if I’d had a bad morning) stars.