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Stone's Fall

Cover of Stone's Fall

Stone's Fall

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A tour de force in the tradition of Iain Pears' international bestseller, An Instance of the Fingerpost, Stone's Fall weaves a story of love and high finance into the fabric of a page-turning thriller. A novel to stand alongside Atonement and The Remains of the Day.

A panoramic novel with a riveting mystery at its heart, Stone's Fall is a quest, a love story, and a tale of murder -- richly satisfying and completely engaging on many levels. It centres on the career of a very wealthy financier and the mysterious circumstances of his death, cast against the backdrop of WWI and Europe's first great age of espionage, the evolution of high-stakes international finance and the beginning of the twentieth century's arms race. Stone's Fall is a major return to the thriller form that first launched Iain Pears onto bestseller lists around the world and that earned him acclaim as a mesmerizing storyteller.

From the Hardcover edition.

A tour de force in the tradition of Iain Pears' international bestseller, An Instance of the Fingerpost, Stone's Fall weaves a story of love and high finance into the fabric of a page-turning thriller. A novel to stand alongside Atonement and The Remains of the Day.

A panoramic novel with a riveting mystery at its heart, Stone's Fall is a quest, a love story, and a tale of murder -- richly satisfying and completely engaging on many levels. It centres on the career of a very wealthy financier and the mysterious circumstances of his death, cast against the backdrop of WWI and Europe's first great age of espionage, the evolution of high-stakes international finance and the beginning of the twentieth century's arms race. Stone's Fall is a major return to the thriller form that first launched Iain Pears onto bestseller lists around the world and that earned him acclaim as a mesmerizing storyteller.

From the Hardcover edition.

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Excerpts-
  • Chapter One

    Paris, March 1953

    The Church of St.-Germain des Prés, at the start of what was supposed to be spring, was a miserable place, made worse by the drabness of a city still in a state of shock, worse still by the little coffin in front of the altar which was my reason for being there, worse again by the aches and pains of my body as I kneeled.

    She'd died a week before I arrived. I hadn't even realised she was still alive; she must have been well into her eighties, and the hardships of the past few years had weakened many a younger person. She would not have been impressed, but something approaching a real prayer for her did come into my mind just before I struggled back onto the pew. Age has few compensations; the indignity of discomfort, the effort to conceal constant nagging pain, is most certainly not one of them.

    Until I read the Figaro that morning and saw the announcement, I had been enjoying myself. I was on a farewell tour; the powers that be had scraped together enough foreign currency to allow me to travel. My last visit to the foreign bureaux before I retired. Not many people could do that sort of thing these days -- and would not until foreign exchange restrictions were lifted. It was a little mark of respect, and one that I appreciated.

    It was a fine enough service, I thought, although I was not an expert. The priests took their time, the choir sang prettily, the prayers were said, and it was all over. A short eulogy paid tribute to her tireless, selfless work for the unfortunate but said nothing of her character. The congregation was mainly freshly scrubbed and intense-looking children, who were clipped around the ear by teachers if they made any untoward noise. I looked around, to see who would take charge of the next round, but no one seemed to know what to do. Eventually the undertaker took over. The body, he said, would be interred in Père Lachaise that afternoon, at two o'clock, at 15 Chemin du Dragon. All who wished to attend were welcome. Then the pallbearers picked up the coffin and marched out, leaving the mourners feeling lost and cold.

    "Excuse me, but is your name Braddock? Matthew Braddock?"

    A quiet voice of a young man, neatly dressed, with a black band around his arm. I nodded, and he held out his hand. "My name is Whitely," he said. "Harold Whitely, of Henderson, Lansbury, Fenton. I recognised you from newsreels."

    "Oh?"

    "Solicitors, you know. We dealt with Madame Robillard's residual legal business in England. Not that there was much of it. I am so glad to meet you; I was planning to write in any case, once I got back."

    "Really? She didn't leave me any money, did she?"

    He smiled. "I'm afraid not. By the time she died she was really quite poor."

    "Goodness gracious me," I said, with a smile.

    "Why the surprise?"

    "She was very wealthy when I knew her."

    "I'd heard that. I knew her only as a sweet old lady with a weakness for worthy causes. But I found her charming on the few occasions we met. Quite captivating, in fact."

    "Yes, that's her," I replied. "Why did you come to the funeral?"

    "A tradition of the firm," he said with a grimace. "We bury all our clients. A last service. But, you know -- it's a trip to Paris, and there's not much opportunity for that these days. Unfortunately, I could get hold of so little currency I have to go straight back this evening."

    "I have a little more than that, so would you care for a drink?"

    He nodded, and we walked down the Boulevard St.-Germain to a café, past grim buildings blackened with the filth of a century or more of smoke and fumes. Whitely -- formerly Captain...

About the Author-
  • Iain Pears is the author of the bestsellers An Instance of the Fingerpost and The Dream of Scipio and a novella, The Portrait, as well as a series of acclaimed detective novels, a book of art history and countless articles on artistic, financial and historical subjects. He lives in Oxford, England.

Reviews-
  • Publishers Weekly, starred and boxed

    "British author Pears matches the brilliance of his bestselling An Instance of the Fingerpost (1998) with this intricate historical novel.... The pages will fly by for most readers, who will lose themselves in the clear prose and compelling plot."

  • Kirkus Reviews, starred "A learned, witty and splendidly entertaining descent into the demimondes of international espionage, arms dealing, financial hanky-panky and other favorite pastimes of those without conscience.... Suffice it to say that the long but fast-paced story involves, among many other things, plenty of spy-versus-spy stuff, a whiff of romance and a plan to fill the world with enough all-destroying weapons that no one would ever dare go to war -- an epic James Bond tale, in other words, by way of G.K. Chesterton and perhaps Arturo Pérez-Reverte. Classy crime fiction, delightfully written, with few straight lines in sight."
  • Malcolm Gladwell "When I read Iain Pears' Instance of the Fingerpost years ago, I thought it was so brilliantly plotted, so compulsively entertaining, so utterly engrossing that I gave it to my father and said, 'This is the new Dickens.' Stone's Fall is better."
  • The Globe and Mail "A steadily simmering, action-filled story."
  • The Gazette "A magnificent piece of writing...beyond question."
  • Daily Mail "Engrossing and intelligent, it's the best sort of page-turner."
  • The Independent "Pears has a knack of creating drama about high finance, a world that has been notably missing from the modern novel. . . . This is a splendid return to the grand 19th-century novel in its inclusive vision of society."
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