In 1663, an Oxford professor has been poisoned with arsenic -- that much is clear. But who did it and why is not. Four different narrators tell the same story and implicate four different killers. This strange story takes place against the historical backdrop of the English civil wars and restoration of King Charles II after the death of Cromwell. One of the narrators is Italian businessman and sort-of physician Marco da Cola; one is Jack Prestcott, a man obsessed with clearing the name of his father who was convicted of treason against England; one is John Wallis, a sort of secret service official of his day; and the fourth is Anthony Wood, a poor scholar and librarian. A witch will be executed, government secrets found and lost again, dissections and experimental transfusions attempted. This long and literary 1998 bestseller set a new standard for historical mystery novels.
This report prepared by David Loftus