Richard Laymon Same Vein






RATING:

Date of Release: Nov '98

Publisher: Vintage

Review Source:

AN INSTANCE OF THE FINGERPOST by Iain Pears

An Instance of the Fingerpost will be compared to Umberto Eco's best selling The Name of the Rose. The Name of the Rose split readers down the middle - you loved it or hated it. And so will An Instance of the Figerpost.

Pears should be congratulated not only for the scope of the novel, but also for the delightfully unconventional story-telling techniques used, which are hardly ever employed today. It's 1663 in Oxford, England, the peak of the Restoration period. Dr. Robert Grove is found dead in his room, hands clenched and face frozen in pain. All the signs point to poison.

The narrative focusses on Grove's murder as four different characters give their version of events: Marco da Cola, a visiting Italian physician; Jack Prestcott, the son of a traitor who fled the country to avoid execution; Dr. John Wallis, a mathematician and cryptographer with a liking for conspiracy theories; and Anthony Wood, an Oxford antiquarian.

Not all is as it seems and our four narrators bring their own version of events to the fore. Can we believe all of them? Can we believe any of them? The period details are glorious and well researched: including the early days of medicine (some gut-churning discriptions here!), the politics of the English Civil War, and the hit new sensation - wigs!

The characters are well crafted and realistic for their time period and there are enough surprises along the way to keep you guessing until the final 15 pages! Don't be put off by the time or the setting, this is an intelligently crafted novel that will keep you guessing until the end. And, heck, you may learn something about history too!

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