Liss, David 1966–
Liss, David 1966–
PERSONAL: Born 1966; married; wife is a professor; children: one daughter. Education: Syracuse University, B.S.; Georgia State University, M.A.; Columbia University, postgraduate studies. Religion: Jewish.
AWARDS, HONORS: Columbia president's fellow; A.W. Mellon research fellow; Edgar Award for Best First Novel, Mystery Writers of America, 2001, for A Conspiracy of Paper.
A Conspiracy of Paper, Random House (New York, NY), 2000
The Coffee Trader, Random House (New York, NY), 2003
A Spectacle of Corruption (sequel to A Conspiracy of Paper), Random House (New York, NY), 2004.
The Ethical Assassin, Ballantine Books (New York, NY), 2006.
Contributor of short stories to anthologies, including Men Seeking Women, Random House (New York, NY), 2002.
WORK IN PROGRESS: The Devil's Company, for Random House.
SIDELIGHTS: Novelist David Liss was a Columbia University doctoral candidate when he combined his study of capitalism and the early English novel to write A Conspiracy of Paper. R.Z. Sheppard, a reviewer in Time, noted that Liss "put his researches to imaginative and profitable use." Sheppard stated that "appreciators of authenticity should be pleased with Liss's graphic venues." Set in London in 1719 at the time of the South Sea Bubble, the first market crash in English-speaking history, the novel follows the exploits of a swashbuckling detective named Benjamin Weaver. According to David Rynecki, a reviewer in Fortune, Liss uses this historical period as "a backdrop for a detective novel about a pugilist-turned-gumshoe on the trail of his father's killer." Brian Kenney, critiquing A Conspiracy of Paper in Booklist, observed that "the language is a charming eighteenth-century lite, but the pacing is completely modern; the book crackles with period detail, yet the immense research never shows." A reviewer in Publishers Weekly similarly thought that "the period detail is authentic but never obtrusive; the dialogue is a marvel of courtly locution masking murderous bluntness; and the plot … never becomes opaque." Analyzing the novel in the Library Journal, Cynthia Johnson considered A Conspiracy of Paper appropriate "for a modern audience" and commended Liss for doing a "superb job" in bringing to light the critical topics of eighteenth-century London.
Liss returned to the character of Benjamin Weaver in A Spectacle of Corruption. Weaver escapes prison and must prove his innocence of the crime for which he was convicted.
Liss turns to the contemporary with The Ethical Assassin, which begins with seventeen-year-old Shakespeare-quoting Lem Altick scamming the residents of a Florida trailer park by selling them supermarket encyclopedias. While pitching to a poor couple, Lem witnesses their murder by a vegan animal-rights activist, who then engages the young man in his plot to assassinate evil pig farmers. Other characters include a despotic sheriff, a methamphetamine dealer, a Siamese twin, and a number of others whose bodies end up in the hog farm's lagoon of manure. Library Journal reviewer Ronnie H. Terpening wrote that "readers will enjoy this wild and highly entertaining ride." A Kirkus Reviews contributor wrote: "Imagine David Lynch's bizarre masterpiece Blue Velvet scripted by Edna Buchanan and Carl Hiaasen. It's a blast."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Booklist, January 1, 2000, Brian Kenney, review of A Conspiracy of Paper, p. 834; December 1, 2005, Bill Ott, review of The Ethical Assassin, p. 6.
Business Week, February 28, 2000, review of A Conspiracy of Paper, p. 16.
Fortune, April 17, 2000, David Rynecki, review of A Conspiracy of Paper, p. 596.
Kirkus Reviews, November 1, 2005, review of The Ethical Assassin, p. 1161.
Library Journal, January, 2000, Cynthia Johnson, review of A Conspiracy of Paper, p. 160; November 15, 2005, Ronnie H. Terpening, review of The Ethical Assassin, p. 63.
New York Times Book Review, February 20, 2000, James Polk, review of A Conspiracy of Paper, p. 34.
Publishers Weekly, December 13, 1999, interview with David Liss and review of A Conspiracy of Paper, p. 62.
Time, February 28, 2000, R.Z. Sheppard, review of A Conspiracy of Paper, p. 98.
David Liss Home Page, http://www.davidliss.com (March 19, 2006).