Spectacle of Corruption

A Spectacle of Corruption - David Liss What I liked:The main character – nothing changed here. We deal here with a very likeable rouge but if you take into account the times he lived in and his underprivileged position within the English society you might judge him even less harshly. Of course Benjamin is hardly a saint - it makes him as well-rounded a character as I like. Despite tough conditions he always complies with his own set of rules although he is not forced to do it by anyone or anything, apart from his own conscience. Indeed, when you come to think about it he is fairer and more honest than most of high-born politicians-gentlemen who shamelessly sell their votes and political views to the highest bidder. In this part I found Ben really well fleshed-out and from time to time very amusing, still too infatuated with Miriam to behave rationally even if it would be in his best interest. Love is blind but I do hope he will get cured soon. The political background. Once again the period was researched thoroughly and explained in a very entertaining but accurate manner (as far as I know of course). At the beginning of the book we get even a short time line and key political terms included so you don’t have to feel like an idiot and you don’t need to be a history geek to get a grasp of the whole situation very quickly. The author never condescends to his readers and I truly appreciate his approach.Two female characters, Miriam Melbury and Grace Dogmill, featured in this book, were really exceptional although, I must say, not exactly as likeable as the main lead. Both being intelligent, capable and ambitious women, they did their best to find a better postion in a society dominated by men and get away with it. Miriam married an allegedly respectable politician and changed her denomination, practically reinventing herself as an English lady; Grace could be called a political animal - she took an active part in canvassing on behalf of a Whig candidate, supported by her brother, and tried to lead an independent life, even daring to chose her own lovers and not wanting to marry anyone, a very bold move for any woman at that time. Their strategies, although different, had advantages and disadvantages and I loved the fact these were fully exposed during the narration. However I found both ladies terribly selfish that's why my sympathy for them was limited. Still I am glad we met.Finally the baddies (I promise, I will be short now): I simply adore baddies who are as close as possible to real life people - complex characters, with many layers (like onions or Shrek who wasn’t a complete baddie but still, you get my drift) and an interesting personality. You can find such villains in this book - Jonathan Wild and Dennis Dogmill are just two examples. Thank you Mr. Liss for them, it was a treat.What I didn’t like:We are left with a whodunit mystery cliffhanger at the very end and, reading an interview with the author, I found out it was a deliberate move. I do not like cliffhangers although I do understand their uses when it comes to making people buy the next part of a series. Still not fair.Final verdict:A great sequel to the brilliant first part and a great historical fiction you can get addicted to. Yes, I’ve ordered the next book. I know, bad Anachronist. One more thing - this book can be easily read as a stand-alone novel so those of you who like jumping right in the middle of things won't have any difficulties at all (wink at Melissa).