Estimated read time: 6 min read

One Sentence Summary

A detective in 18th century London uncovers a complex financial scandal involving an influential family and the birth of the stock market.


"A Conspiracy of Paper" by David Liss is a historical mystery novel set in 18th century London. The story revolves around Benjamin Weaver, a former pugilist turned private investigator, as he delves into the intricacies of the city's stock market and uncovers a web of conspiracy, deceit, and financial intrigue. The novel provides a rich tapestry of historical detail and a compelling mystery that keeps readers engrossed from beginning to end.

Brief Synopsis

The plot unfolds in London during the early 1700s, a time when the city is abuzz with the frenetic energy of the nascent stock market. Against this backdrop, Benjamin Weaver, a Jewish ex-boxer turned detective, is drawn into a complex web of financial deceit and murder. As he navigates the treacherous world of high finance and unravels the mystery behind his father's death, Weaver becomes entangled in a dangerous conspiracy that threatens to upend the very foundations of London's financial system.

Plot Overview and Setting

The novel is set in the vibrant and tumultuous city of London in the early 18th century, a time of burgeoning trade, financial innovation, and the birth of the stock market. Against this backdrop, the story delves into the underbelly of London's financial district, where fortunes are made and lost, and where power and greed intertwine in a dangerous dance. The intricate details of the setting bring to life the bustling streets, the opulent drawing rooms, and the shadowy alleys of London, creating a vivid and immersive backdrop for the unfolding drama.

Main Characters

The novel features a cast of compelling characters, each with their own motivations and secrets. Here are the main characters:

Benjamin WeaverA former pugilist and current private investigator, Weaver is a tenacious and resourceful protagonist with a keen eye for detail and a thirst for justice.
Miriam LevyWeaver's intelligent and headstrong cousin, Miriam, provides invaluable assistance to Weaver in his investigations.
Jonathan WildA notorious criminal mastermind, Jonathan Wild, is a formidable adversary with a network of spies and informants at his disposal.
LienzoA mysterious figure from Weaver's past, Lienzo possesses valuable information that could unravel the conspiracy at the heart of the novel.

Summary of Different Story Points Over Chapters

Chapter 1-5:

The novel introduces Benjamin Weaver, a private investigator, who is hired by a stockjobber to look into the death of his father, a well-known stock trader. Weaver begins his investigation and uncovers a complex web of financial deceit and murder.

Chapter 6-10:

As Weaver delves deeper into the case, he encounters a shadowy figure from his past, Lienzo, who possesses crucial information about the conspiracy. Weaver's pursuit of the truth leads him to confront dangerous adversaries and uncover shocking revelations.

Chapter 11-15:

Weaver's investigation takes him into the heart of London's financial district, where he navigates treacherous alliances and uncovers the machinations of Jonathan Wild, a formidable criminal mastermind. The stakes escalate as Weaver races against time to unravel the conspiracy.

Chapter 16-20:

Weaver's quest for justice brings him face to face with powerful adversaries and forces him to confront the complexities of his own past. As the tension mounts, Weaver must use all his skills to outmaneuver those who seek to silence him and protect the truth.

Main Events

The novel is replete with a series of compelling events that drive the narrative forward:

Weaver's InvestigationWeaver's relentless pursuit of the truth leads him to uncover a complex conspiracy involving the stock market and his father's death.
Confrontation with AdversariesWeaver faces off against formidable foes, including Jonathan Wild, as he seeks to untangle the web of deceit and danger that surrounds him.
Unraveling the ConspiracyAs Weaver delves deeper into the mystery, he uncovers shocking revelations that shed light on the true nature of the conspiracy and its far-reaching implications.

Themes and Insights


  • Power and Greed: The novel explores the corrupting influence of power and greed, particularly within the context of London's burgeoning stock market and the machinations of criminal masterminds.
  • Justice and Redemption: Weaver's quest for justice and redemption drives the narrative, as he seeks to uncover the truth about his father's death and confront the demons of his own past.
  • Betrayal and Loyalty: The novel delves into themes of betrayal and loyalty, as Weaver navigates a world where allegiances are tested and trust is a rare commodity.


The novel offers insights into the complexities of financial intrigue and the precarious balance of power in 18th century London. It also provides a nuanced portrayal of the social dynamics and power struggles that defined the era, shedding light on the intersecting forces of wealth, crime, and justice.

Reader's Takeaway

"A Conspiracy of Paper" offers readers a riveting journey into the heart of 18th century London, where financial intrigue, murder, and conspiracy intertwine to create a compelling mystery. Through the eyes of Benjamin Weaver, readers are immersed in a world of danger, deception, and the relentless pursuit of justice. The novel's rich historical detail, complex characters, and intricate plot make it a captivating read that will leave readers on the edge of their seats.


In "A Conspiracy of Paper," David Liss weaves a masterful tale of mystery and intrigue, drawing readers into the vibrant and treacherous world of 18th century London. Through the compelling character of Benjamin Weaver and the rich historical backdrop, the novel offers a captivating exploration of power, greed, and the relentless quest for justice. With its immersive setting, intricate plot, and compelling themes, "A Conspiracy of Paper" is a must-read for fans of historical fiction and mystery.

A Conspiracy of Paper FAQ

  1. What is the genre of 'A Conspiracy of Paper'?

    A Conspiracy of Paper is a historical mystery novel.

  2. Who is the author of 'A Conspiracy of Paper'?

    The author of 'A Conspiracy of Paper' is David Liss.

  3. When was 'A Conspiracy of Paper' first published?

    'A Conspiracy of Paper' was first published in 2000.

  4. What is the setting of 'A Conspiracy of Paper'?

    The book is set in 18th century London.

  5. Is 'A Conspiracy of Paper' part of a series?

    Yes, 'A Conspiracy of Paper' is the first book in the Benjamin Weaver series.