An Instance of the Fingerpost Book Summary and Study Guide

Detailed plot synopsis reviews of An Instance of the Fingerpost

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.
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The review of this Book prepared by David Loftus

Chapter Analysis of An Instance of the Fingerpost

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Plot & Themes

Composition of Book descript. of violence and chases 20%Planning/preparing, gather info, debate puzzles/motives 40%Feelings, relationships, character bio/development 20%How society works & physical descript. (people, objects, places) 20% Tone of story    -   Dry-cynical Time/era of story:    -   1600-1899 Misc. Murder Plotlets    -   Big focus on forensic evidence    -   Big focus on autopsies Kind of investigator    -   british mystery (I say!) Kid or adult book?    -   Adult or Young Adult Book Crime Thriller    -   Yes Is MAIN CHARACTER an EVIL criminal?    -   Yes Murder Mystery (killer unknown)    -   Yes

Main Character

Gender    -   Male Profession/status:    -   scholar Age:    -   20's-30's Ethnicity/Race    -   British


Europe    -   Yes European country:    -   England/UK City?    -   Yes City:    -   London    -   Dirty, dangerous (like New York) Small town?    -   Yes Small town people:    -   dumb rednecks, like Gomer Pyle    -   hostile, like Gomer Pyle on steroids Misc setting    -   prison

Writing Style

Accounts of torture and death?    -   very gorey descriptions deaths/dead bodies Explicit sex in book?    -   Yes What kind of sex:    -   descript of kissing    -   actual description of sex    -   descript. of breasts    -   rape (yeech!) Unusual forms of death    -   poisoning    -   hanging    -   frying (cooking) Unusual form of death?    -   Yes Amount of dialog    -   significantly more descript than dialog

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Iain Pears Books Note: the views expressed here are only those of the reviewer(s).
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