The Devil’s Company
By David Liss
Published: July 7, 2009 Random House isbn: 1400064198
Fans of swashbuckling classics by Alexandre Dumas and more recently Spaniard Arturo Perez-Reverte will love David Liss’s new novel The Devil’s Company. But they’ll also get something those authors don’t provide: a gritty dash of lowlife rough stuff worthy of the best contemporary crime fiction.
Set in 1722, The Devil’s Company begins with former boxer and ruffian Benjamin Weaver blackmailed into working on a case which involves another man’s death. Liss sets this up superbly: a British businessman maneuvers Weaver into a corner by exploiting the fact that Weaver, his family and associates are Jews and, therefore, marginalized in the London of the time. From the off, the protagonist is in the dark about the motivations of almost everyone around him. It’s a great jumping off point for a book that’s mystery and thriller all at once.
The adventure and panache of Liss’s plot and the daring of his main character are reminiscent of the great Dumas. The Devil’s Company stands up to comparison with Liss’s Edgar-winning “A Conspiracy of Paper” and his terrific book of Amsterdam, Jews and mercantile skullduggery, “The Coffee Trader,” which is one of my favorite historical novels.
Read my interview with David Liss.