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The coffee trader : a novel
Liss, David
Adult Fiction LISS

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From Publishers' Weekly:

Liss's first novel, A Conspiracy of Paper, was sketched on the wide canvas of 18th-century London's multilayered society. This one, in contrast, is set in the confined world of 17th-century Amsterdam's immigrant Jewish community. Liss makes up the difference in scale with ease, establishing suspense early on. Miguel Lienzo escaped the Inquisition in Portugal and lives by his wits trading commodities. He honed his skills in deception during years of hiding his Jewish identity in Portugal, so he finds it easy to engage in the evasions and bluffs necessary for a trader on Amsterdam's stock exchange. While he wants to retain his standing in the Jewish community, he finds it increasingly difficult to abide by the draconian dictates of the Ma'amad, the ruling council. Which is all the more reason not to acknowledge his longing for his brother's wife, with whom he now lives, having lost all his money in the sugar trade. Miguel is delighted when a sexy Dutch widow enlists him as partner in a secret scheme to make a killing on "coffee fruit," an exotic bean little known to Europeans in 1659. But she may not be as altruistic as she seems. Soon Miguel is caught in a web of intricate deals, while simultaneously fending off a madman desperate for money, and an enemy who uses the Ma'amad to make Miguel an outcast. Each player in this complex thriller has a hidden agenda, and the twists and turns accelerate as motives gradually become clear. There's a central question, too: When men manipulate money for a living, are they then inevitably tempted to manipulate truth and morality? Agent, Darhansoff and Verrill. (Mar. 11) Forecast: The current unstable financial markets give Liss's tale added resonance. Reviews should be plentiful. Nine-city author tour; rights sold in Denmark, France, Germany, Holland, Italy, Spain and the U.K. (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

From Library Journal:

Miguel Lienzo is down on his luck in Amsterdam in 1659. Not only has he lost his fortune in the sugar market, but while attempting to recoup his losses by trading in brandy, he also lands himself so deeply in debt that he must relinquish his fine house in the affluent neighborhood on the Rozengracht canal to live in his brother's basement. When a pretty and enterprising widow offers him the chance to regain his fortune and his status by cornering the market in the new commodity of coffee, he jumps at the chance despite the laws forbidding Jews to act as agents for gentiles. This golden opportunity, however, plunges him into a shadowy world of plots and counterplots among traders on the Amsterdam Exchange and members of the rigidly claustrophobic Portuguese Jewish community. As in A Conspiracy of Paper, winner of the 2000 Edgar Award for Best First Novel, Liss creates a vivid portrait of high finance and religion. But the Byzantine plot and the complexities of futures trading dilute the suspense instead of creating it. Although The Coffee Trader lacks the narrative punch of Liss's previous novel, it will appeal to those interested in finance and sophisticated readers of historical fiction. [Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 11/1/02.]-Cynthia Johnson, Cary Memorial Lib., Lexington, MA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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