Known as the Lion of Judah, ex-pugilist Benjamin Weaver now makes his living performing services for gentlemen. These services such as debt collection require an understanding of London's underworld and the courage to face violence. One day a young gentleman named Balfour comes to Weaver's lodgings to engage him to find the murderer of Balfour's father whose death had been ruled a suicide. Balfour informs Weaver that their fathers had been business acquaintances and that he believes Weaver's father's death around the same time was not the accident it seemed. Weaver, whose given name is Lienzo, realizes he must now return to the family he left 10 years earlier. His father, a Portuguese Jew, had made his living as a stock-jobber buying and selling financial paper and his uncle continues to prosper running an import-export business. Miriam, the beautiful widow of his cousin, also lives with the family. In the course of his investigation, Weaver needs both his courage and his intellect as he grapples with the hidden powers behind the new world of finance.
The world of thief-takers, coffeehouses, and masquerades serves as the setting for this historical novel rich in the atmosphere of the early 18th century. Author David Liss propels the reader into a time that entertains with its color, as he invites the reader to find similarities between past and present. Readers interested in 18th century London might also enjoy the historical mysteries featuring Sir John Fielding by Bruce Alexander.
Reviewed by ds, 3/00. Other reviews by ds.