Stone’s Fall by Iain Pears



Stone’s Fall by Iain Pears

Pears has inverted the chronology of his tale so that, as the puzzle becomes more intricate, we move backwards from Edwardian London to Paris in 1890 and finally to Venice in 1867, in search of reasons for Stone's death? The use of 3 characters to tell the story was quite intriguing.

The book included interesting historical characters and varied settings. It played with ideas like spying switching from obtaining gossip from military personnel, to tracking money and industrial processes and using a clause in a will, to delay disclosure of a weak financial state.

The First part of the novel told by Matthew Braddock, a journalist, was the least satisfying. In the second part of the novel the story heats up. In Paris, Stone's tale is taken up by Henry Cort, an ex-banker and government informant with a longstanding connection to Stone's wife. The book gains pace here. The characters in this section are much more satisfactory and believable. Cort is a terrific character. His professional adventures guide us not only to the secret life of John Stone but to a fascinating period in history the arms race and spying.

In the final part of the novel Stone takes over his own story. A young man now, he has travelled alone to Venice, leaving his wife behind in England. His own account serves only to tie up a few loose ends. As a result, the pace of this section is slower.

The plot is well thought out and the incidental detail is excellent throughout. It is often a dense read, there are many characters and you have to concentrate on each one to keep up with the story. The ending was a twist too far!

A busy month so not read by all members but those who read it enjoyed it.

The book scored a 7.