IAIN PEARS AN INSTANCE OF THE FINGERPOST PDF

Reading Guide. When an Oxford don is murdered, it seems at first that the incident can have nothing to do with great matters of church and state…. Yet, little is as it seems in this gripping novel, which dramatizes the ways in which witnesses can see the same events yet remember them falsely. Each of four narrators—a Venetian medical student, a young man intent on proving his late father innocent of treason, a cryptographer, and an archivist—fingers a different culprit…an erudite and entertaining tour de force. In Oxford, a servant girl confesses to a murder. But four witnesses—a medical student, the son of a traitor, a cryptographer, and an archivist—each finger a different culprit….

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Reading Guide. When an Oxford don is murdered, it seems at first that the incident can have nothing to do with great matters of church and state…. Yet, little is as it seems in this gripping novel, which dramatizes the ways in which witnesses can see the same events yet remember them falsely.

Each of four narrators—a Venetian medical student, a young man intent on proving his late father innocent of treason, a cryptographer, and an archivist—fingers a different culprit…an erudite and entertaining tour de force. In Oxford, a servant girl confesses to a murder. But four witnesses—a medical student, the son of a traitor, a cryptographer, and an archivist—each finger a different culprit…. Add to Cart. Also available from:.

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Review: An Instance of the Fingerpost

Those too impatient for such extended foreplay should simply dive headfirst into this fascinating leviathan. Grove is a tedious, flatulent boor, a churchman who refuses to help the ailing mother of his former servant, Sarah Blundy. When Grove is found dead and his death ascertained to have been caused by poison, suspicion falls on Sarah, her motive being revenge. There are other suspects, but Sarah seems the most plausible because of her fiery nature, circumstantial evidence and false testimony. Lost in a flurry of political and sexual politics is the possibility that others may have had better motives than revenge, especially pure rage and blind ambition. But hovering over all the accusations leveled against Sarah Blundy is the heavy hand of destiny: She must die, though even those responsible for executing her cannot understand the complete implications of her death. In the 17th or the 20th century, murder is a crime, the only crime appropriate for genuine detective literature, and sleuths of any age must sift through the evidence, avoid red herrings, unravel the plot in this case, a story and a conspiracy , which has been confabulated by the murderer to perpetrate the crime and an escape, and ultimately rewrite that plot in order to catch the criminal.

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An Instance of the Fingerpost Reader’s Guide

Oxford is the intellectual seat of the country, a place of great scientific, religious, and political ferment. A fellow of New College is found dead in suspicious circumstances. A young woman is accused of his murder. We hear the story of the death from four witnesses—each tells his own version of what happened. Only one reveals the extraordinary truth. An Instance of The Fingerpost is an utterly compelling historical mystery with a plot that twists and turns and keeps the reader guessing until the very last page. Born in , Iain Pears has worked as an art historian, a television consultant, and a journalist, in England, France, Italy, and the United States.

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AN INSTANCE OF THE FINGERPOST. By Iain Pears . Riverhead Books: 694 pp, $27

Like Eco's story of nefarious doings at a 14th-century Italian monastery, Pears' novel is a compendious historical pageant set among 17th-century clergymen, scholars and politicians concerned with the natural and the supernatural in roughly equal measure. A murder is at the center of the story, or, more accurately, the several stories of Pears' massive but unflagging book. Four rather long excursions into the same basic tale could grow wearisome, but Pears' effort never does. The author, a British journalist and the author of six previous detective stories, brilliantly exploits the stormy, conspiracy-heavy history of England after the death of Oliver Cromwell to fashion a believable portrait of 17th-century political and intellectual life as well as a whodunit of almost mesmerizing complexity. Most of Pears' dozen or so main characters are imagined versions of historical figures.

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