An Instance of the Fingerpost by Iain Pears

 

Historical MysteryAn Instance of the Fingerpost by Iain Pears

An Instance of the FingerpostIain Pears; Berkley Books 1999WorldCatIn 1663 or so Dr. Grove has been murdered in Oxford, England. The gentleman of Venice, Marco da Cola, is appalled to learn that Sarah Blundy is accused of the murder. She is a common servant woman who seemed honest and respectable despite her low class standing. Jack Prescott, bent on clearing his father’s name, is certain a friend of his committed the murder. The friend wanted something Dr. Grove was going to achieve. Dr. John Wallis, a cryptographer for the government, is sure a foreign spy is responsible. This foreign spy was in England to reach King Charles II. Anthony Wood, historian, had yet a different perspective on Dr. Grove’s death. He, too, was certain Sarah Blundy did not commit the crime.

Each man tells his tale of that time in Oxford, England. The death of Dr. Grove is only a small portion of each man’s story. Instead, each tells his own tale of what was happening in his life for up to a year before and after the murder. The only constants are Dr. Grove’s death, Sarah Blundy’s hanging, each of these men in Oxford at the time of the death, Richard Lower, a physician, and arsenic in Dr. Grove’s wine. After that, there is hardly any point that they agree on.

This is four books in one. Each tells his own story which happens to include Dr. Grove’s death. Yet the truth is not revealed until all four men tell their story. The story is based in Oxford, England, at a time when there were many renown Englishmen in and out of that center of learning. Although the story is fiction, many of the characters actually lived.

The story, itself, is fascinating. I recommend reading it. But this is an extremely wordy novel. There were paragraphs I would skip as one or another of them started philosophizing to support his own beliefs. The way each person’s diverse life comes together at this point in history is amazing, yet believable. Their lives were destined to all be in Oxford at the same time. Did Sarah Blundy murder Dr. Grove?

Even after finding out whether Sarah Blundy was guilty or not, there were more surprises to be told. Each man thought he knew what happened. Each had pieces of the truth. The whole of it is almost unbelievable.

Notice: Strong sexual content

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