Monday, February 21, 2011

Stone's Fall by Iain Pears

William John Stone, Baron Ravenscliff, the wealthy English industrialist, has died.  Not unusual for a man of his age, but his death was not of old age or disease.  Instead, he fell to his death from his office window; a second floor room.  When his will is read, he leaves everything to his wife, Elizabeth, with two exceptions.  He leaves a legacy to a French woman no one has heard him speak of, and he leaves a legacy to a child he apparently fathered that no one knew about.

Since the will cannot be settled until these two legacies are distributed, Lady Elizabeth engages the services of a newspaper journalist, to investigate and find the two recipients.  Matthew Braddock, a young reporter with nothing to recommend him except his ingenuity and quick intelligence is her pick.

As Matthew delves into Stone's life, he must learn about the world of finance where Stone was king.  Stone knew little about politics, or the arts, but he knew everything about money and how it could be used to create dynasties and political alliances that bound countries together. 

Braddock is soon involved in a world of complex intrigue.  He learns of Stone's involvement with spies, about beautiful women and betrayals, of backgrounds full of secrets, of amazing kindnesses and casual cruelties.  The plot twists and turns back onto itself, making connections that the reader doesn't see coming.  At the end, a twist that will remain in readers' minds long after the book is completed, hits them like a runaway train.

This book is recommended for mystery readers who like complex plots and a slow unfolding.  It is not incredibly violent, but requires the full attention of the reader.  Pears has created memorable characters whose layers are slowly revealed until the astonishing denouement. 

1 comment:

Dorothy James said...

This sounds like a mystery I would really like to read. The great thing about your reviews is that you describe the book clearly and factually, not giving away too much of the mystery, but giving your readers a definite sense of whether the book is for them or not. This particular review is one of your classics, in that sense. Thank you.