IAIN PEARS AN INSTANCE OF THE FINGERPOST PDF

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.

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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.

The Baconian detective distrusts his senses, resists his fondest theories, questions preconception and prejudice and subjects every aspect of his education to skepticism. Although Pears uses Bacon for the intellectual structure of his novel, he could have used two rather different models for the actual structure of his book.

We are in England during the s, the early years of the Restoration. Charles II, son of Charles I executed in , becomes king in but, despite hopes for amnesties and equanimity on both sides of the Commonwealth-Monarchy division, there is great discontent in England: fear justified that the monarch would convert to Catholicism and impose his religion on the nation and fear again justified that royal aspirations to absolutism would strip all power from both Parliament and people.

During the s, therefore, the murder of an Oxford professor would have political implications because so many secret deals, involving clerics and academics, had been made to bring about the Restoration without precipitating another bloody civil war that a violent crime would automatically suggest betrayal and retribution against Monarchists.

Pears capitalizes on this both to confuse the reader about motive and to re-create the era. The antiquarian urge to reconstruct places and customs haunts every page of his novel, but Pears never loses sight of his mystery. Pears uses Boyle to dramatize the struggle of the new science against theology, while Locke is a mysterious young physician interested in the experiments with blood transfusion being carried out by Oxford scientists.

Before the s, doctors had no more social status than barbers, but the new university-trained physicians would also be gentlemen rather than laborers. Here we have two deaths: one a murder and the other an execution. Our problem is to discern motive. Who is the real victim: the corpus delicti or the alleged perpetrator?

Why is it no one will believe the murderer when he confesses his crime? In presenting the contradictions of the age, Pears proves that the past does have a future. Hot Property. About Us. Brand Publishing. Times News Platforms. Times Store. Facebook Twitter Show more sharing options Share Close extra sharing options. March 8,

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

An Instance of the Fingerpost is a historical mystery novel by Iain Pears. A murder in 17th-century Oxford is related from the contradictory points of view of four of the characters, all of them unreliable narrators. The setting of the novel is , just after the restoration of the monarchy following the English Civil War , when the authority of King Charles II is not yet settled, and conspiracies abound. Most of the characters are historical figures. Two of the narrators are the mathematician John Wallis and the historian Anthony Wood. Furthermore, the characters that are fictional are nonetheless drawn from real events.

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An Instance of the Fingerpost

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.

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Review: An Instance of the Fingerpost

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.

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