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A Spectacle of Corruption
David Liss
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A Spectacle of Corruption

(Benjamin Weaver #2)

4.04  ·  Rating details ·  3,039 ratings  ·  215 reviews
Benjamin Weaver, the quick-witted pugilist turned private investigator, who was first introduced in the Edgar Award-winning novel, THE CONSPIRACY OF PAPER, returns. While inquiring into some threatening notes sent to a Church of England priest, Weaver is arrested for the murder of a dockworker. After his conviction, engineered by a crooked judge who has blatantly instructe ...more
Published March 16th 2004 by Brilliance Audio (first published 2004)
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Richard Derus
Aug 09, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Rating: 4* of five

The Publisher Says: Moments after his conviction for a murder he did not commit, at a trial presided over by a judge determined to find him guilty, Benjamin Weaver is accosted by a stranger who cunningly slips a lockpick and a file into his hands. In an instant he understands two things: Someone had gone to a great deal of trouble to see him condemned to hang--and another equally mysterious agent is determined to see him free.

So begins A Spectacle of Corruption, which heralds
I loved this book, it was so...
exciting, interesting, clever, relevant and laugh out loud funny! In fact I almost choked a few times I laughed so hard.

This is the second installment of the fictional memoir from the life and times of Benjamin Weaver. I recommend reading his accounts in the order they are presented; A Conspiracy of Paper, A Spectacle of Corruption.

Weaver is a charming, handsome, capable man of action and former pugilist who makes an honest living as a thief-taker, debt-collecto
Apr 18, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A gripping and most engrossing sequel to the tales of Benjamin Weaver, Portuguese Jew-come-thief taker in 18th century England. This one sheds light on the political processes and undercurrents of the time, which may not be what you had in mind when thinking of Britain as the birthplace of modern democracy, though many things may strike you as quite similar to what we are experiencing in the Western world today. Great characters and well-paced plot make this novel even better than its predecesso ...more
Jun 14, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
David Liss is just good at informing while telling a story. This is the third book I've read of his and each time I put his books down I think to myself, "Now that was a good book." And then, about 3 days later, I think to myself, "I actually learned stuffs from that read." In this case, I learned that elections have always had an ocean of hidden agendas simmering underneath them. I am currently vacillating between the horrifics and the comforts behind that realization.


Jan 25, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, judaica
Quite good, though perhaps not as good as the previous one in the series. The 'Jewish' angle is a lot less pronounced, which I guess is fine, but it was something I was interested in in the first book. The account of the 1722 election is fascinating and, I am supposing, well researched. I was only bothered by three places where the author used highly anachronistic language. In general, Liss does not reproduce 18th century English full-on, but he does a good job of giving a flavor of it. But he h ...more
Not as good as A Conspiracy of Paper, or Day of Atonement, but still enjoyable. It was especially fascinating to learn about the bizarre way in which parliamentary elections were carried out in 18th century England.
Feb 13, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A Spectacle of Corruption is a story of the chaos that follows an election in 18th century England - and right smack in the middle of it is Benjamin Weaver, an ex-pugilist private investigator, who got pulled in in the mess by being accused of murder. Liss’s world and character building in this novel is simply captivating. The author’s use of language is just beautiful, helping put the reader quite at home in the setting. The election in question is filled with intrigues, political and social, b ...more
Mar 16, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Jody by: Barb (of course) :)
A Spectacle of Corruption is a rare wonder of a book that educates, entertains, and tugs the heartstrings. Set in 1722 London against the backdrop of the first general election since the crowning of George I, this is the second installment of the story of Benjamin Weaver, Jewish ex-pugilist private investigator. David Liss is a master of characterization, creating complicated, compelling protagonists, and Weaver is no exception with his appealing combination of daring, determination, dry humor, ...more
Jan 15, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was an exciting, fun read. An interesting look into what it might have been like in London in the 18th century. Employing the classic genre move of having the detective hero solve the crime in order to exonerate himself, we get a crash course in English politics and law of the time. Liss does a good job of capturing the language and the style of the times (or at least appearing to--I am not an expert in 18th century England and so I am sure he doesn't get it all correct. But it has the feel ...more
Waverly Fitzgerald
I really enjoyed the first book in this series, A Conspiracy of Paper, so was eager to follow the adventures of Benjamin Weaver, pugilist and private investigator in the early decades of the 18th century. Liss, as in the first book, weaves a complicated tangle for Weaver to resolve, and neatly includes the significant secondary characters as well, along with a few historical personages of note, especially James Stuart, the Pretender. The main focus of the novel revolves around the corruption of ...more
Sequel to A Conspiracy of Paper ( based in early 18th Century London. Both books are excellent, both as well researched historical and exciting mystery novels, but where the previous story is set in the world of finance (re: the South Sea Bubble), A Spectacle of Corruption focuses on the rough and tumble world of British politics (and treason as well). While the plot is complicated, it isn't ridiculously elaborate and the history is well done; informative ...more
Feb 12, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
4.5 stars.

I love Benjamin Weaver! I'm also interested in British history in general, and I love the setting of 18th century London. Looking forward to reading the next one!
Peter Clothier
Aug 15, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Quite apart from the Olympic Games, which I have been watching on television, I seem to be finding myself in London a good deal this summer. A few days ago I finished---and wrote about--Wolf Hall, by Hilary Mantel, a historical novel set in 17th century London. Just yesterday, I finished A Spectacle of Corruption, by David Liss, a fine romp through the back alleys and drawing rooms of 18th century London, in the reign of George I. And no sooner done with that, I happened to pick up from my pile ...more
Aug 27, 2009 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery
A decent book that makes a better early draft than final version. In this book, Liss never found the balance between plot-forwarding action and the little details that give color to the main character's life even if they aren't strictly necessary. The book was too much a long series of actions strung together rather than a nicely flowing narrative. Even with this focus on the plot, the mystery takes so many twists and turns that the reader begins to forget what the problem was in the first place ...more
Sep 30, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A Spectacle of Corruption is a historical fiction set around the time of the 1722 General Election; it is a mystery novel built on the backdrop of Whigs and Tories jockeying for position, on Jonathan Wild, on Jacobites and the royal succession. This background is a really exciting place for David Liss to construct his story of Benjamin Weaver, the Jewish, former boxer, private invesigator. Liss takes the trappings of the typical hard-boiled noir story, the flashback structures, the outsider narr ...more
May 06, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Everyone should read this book this year - election year. If you think our political process is corrupt, read this book and find out how bad it could be. The title is taken from one of the politicians running for Parliament in the book who says that the political process in 1722 London is "a spectacle of corruption." Like all of Liss' books, it is a fabulous portrayal of historical events wrapped up in a great mystery.
Dec 16, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
mellower than the earlier books in the sequel. This one imparts fewer facts of Jewish life or 18th century England. The historical information included concerns the election process for parliament which for me was not as dry as the previous tales of finance and markets. This book dwells more on the personalities of the characters of which Benjamin Weaver is again the central one.
The continuing story of Benjamin Weaver, a thief-taker. This is a story of his condemnation for murder and his determination to clear his name. The story of his love for Marion and her refusal to be with him. The plot is great, but the history of political process in the early 18th century is outstanding.

This is a wonderful read!
Georgia Carvalho
This is what great historical fiction should be like, rich with details, well developed characters and great integration of the historical background with the plot. It is a pleasure to read David Liss's books. I hope there will be more than three books in the Benjamin Weaver series because I can't get enough.
Mal Warwick
Mar 17, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
At a time when Americans have grown increasingly concerned about corruption in our political system, it’s useful to review the origins of electoral democracy in England. After all, our own representative democracy honored the same historical roots as the British parliamentary system. And the novelist David Liss opens a window on the sorry state of the political scene across the pond in 1722 in A Spectacle of Corruption. The title specifically refers to the parliamentary election held in that yea ...more
Dennis Fischman
The back cover of this book calls it Historical Fiction, and in that genre, the book succeeds magnificently. You get a vivid sense of the bribery and the battles in the streets that made up a parliamentary election in Britain in 1722, and the after effects of the violent overthrow of the Stuart dynasty, as well as the rise of labor unions on the docks. In fact, the book was as gripping as a season of The Wire, and like that TV series, it shows you flawed idealists and not completely corrupt indi ...more
Gumble's Yard
Feb 18, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2010
Follow-up to A Conspiracy of Paper (a.k.a. The South Sea Company), the title of this book refers to the election – as (very interestingly given the seeming missing angle from the previous book) this book is based entirely around the 1722 General Election – the first Hanoverian election and fiercely contested between the Tories and the Whigs, with in the background the Jacobites plotting another revolution.

In many ways the plot is similar to the previous book: again there are two opposing sides w
Laçin T.
Aug 17, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: walk, state
So this book waited like five years -maybe more- on my shelf before I read it. I'd bought it for its intriguing name; something was going on with the state in the plot for sure. Then I forgot about the book. When I decided to free up some space in my library, found this one. I started the book three times, and while travelling, got interrupted three times and gave up- maybe it's the translation?- . One more try and the plot took off in the fifth chapter! It kind of amazes me how I insisted on re ...more
Dec 20, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
J.M. Harvey
Aug 01, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
And enjoyable read

I did enjoy this book, but somehow it felt a little thinner than the previous novel in the series. The plot wasn’t very intricate, and while the history was very entertaining, It didn’t explore James the pretender and the intrigue around him with the same level of detail as the previous novel handled the stock bubble. The romance aspect seemed forced to me, and the mystery had him going back-and-forth among the same group of six or seven people over and over which didn’t really
David C Ward
3.5 stars. An historical detective story set in mid 18th century London during the election season and Jacobite agitation. Does a good job with the background including the themes of identity, forgery, antisemitism and corruption (also the century’s medical faith in enemas!). It’s just a little too stolid and didactic showing off this knowledge. Liss is better when he relaxes a bit into the story; there’s a good joke about the Jewish boxer using Jesus as an alias. Also English witnesses in court ...more
Jul 04, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
David Liss delivers his second installment if the goings on and shenanigans of Benjamin Weaver!
Where "A Conspiracy of Paper" wrapped itself around the 1700's British stock market, "A Spectacle of Corruption" takes on 1700's British elections - gaining seats for either the Whigs or the Tories.
Weaver somehow finds himself mighty deep into the thick of unimaginable corruption!
To my amusement, the tale is packed full of humour, intrigue, surprise - a real who-done-what til the last page!
Dec 31, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I picked up this book at a second hand book sale not realizing it was 2nd in a series until I got on to Goodreads to add it to my book list. It reads very well as a stand alone. Fast-paced, lots of twists and turns. Provides an interesting insight in to British elections in the 18th century. Will re-read for sure and am now interested to hunt out the other books about Benjamin Weaver.
Justin Kneissler
Jun 11, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Very Good

The second Benjamin Weaver book sees the thief taker guilty of murder. But Benjamin will not go quietly to the gallows. This was another good book which I enjoyed. There were plots and twists against a backdrop of election corruption at a time of instability in the realm.
A very good period piece.
Jul 08, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I loved David Liss' first book (and first in this series), A Conspiracy of Paper. LOVED! However, I'm going to have to go back someday and reread it, so I can discover why this second book didn't match my expectations. Still good and I enveloped myself in the historical world he created, but I had set my hopes up very high.
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I am a novelist living in San Antonio, Texas, though, for the record, I am not from Texas. I just live here. I have four novels published: A Conspiracy of Paper (which won the Edgar Award for Best First Novel) and A Spectacle of Corruption were both national bestsellers. They are set in 18th century London and feature Benjamin Weaver, a Jewish former pugilist, thief-taker for hire. Weaver will be ...more

Other books in the series

Benjamin Weaver (4 books)
  • A Conspiracy of Paper (Benjamin Weaver, #1)
  • The Devil's Company (Benjamin Weaver #3)
  • The Day of Atonement (Benjamin Weaver #4)

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“It is in general and odd thing to reach some measure of fame and see one's name bandied about in the newspapers. It is quite another to see oneself turned into a chess piece in a political match. I should call myself a pawn, but I feel that does some disservice to the the obliqueness of my movements. I was a bishop, perhaps, sliding at odd angles, or a knight, jumping from one spot to another. I did not much like the feel of unseen fingers pinching me as I was moved from this square to that." - Benjamin Weaver” 1 likes
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