Amsterdam in the 1690s - a boom town with Europe's biggest stock exchange and traders who will stop at nothing to get even richer. Lienzo, a Portugese Jew, stumbles across a new commodity - coffee - which, if he plays his cards right, will make him the richest man in Holland. But others stand in his way - rival traders who do all in their power to ...
Amsterdam in the 1690s - a boom town with Europe's biggest stock exchange and traders who will stop at nothing to get even richer. Lienzo, a Portugese Jew, stumbles across a new commodity - coffee - which, if he plays his cards right, will make him the richest man in Holland. But others stand in his way - rival traders who do all in their power to confuse the exchange and scupper his plans, his brother who is jealous of his financial wizardry and even his brother's beautiful wife who both tempts and spurns him in equal measure.
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I just finished reading this the second time around and it was just as good as the first time I read it three years ago. There?s a lot to like ? intrigue, risk, and a charming protagonist running a tightrope between ruin and riches. Miguel Lienzo is a man trying to make his way in the world. As a Portuguese Jew he?s a bit of an outsider in Amsterdam?s merchant community. It?s the 1600?s, the era that gave birth to financial and commodities markets as we know them, and morality in these new markets is clear as mud. Miguel is a player. He?s just suffered some significant losses in a deal gone bad and needs to reestablish his reputation and financial standing. Enter Geertruid, Miguel?s flirty new Dutch friend, with an exciting idea to get rich trading a new commodity called coffee. This newly discovered fruit from the East has an amazing effect on the intellect unlike anything else they?ve ever experienced, and it just might be the next big thing in Europe. If Miguel can avoid the censure of his faith?s oppressive ruling body, the Ma?amad, and skip through hoops with creditors long enough to manipulate the market in his most ambitious endeavor yet, he and Geertruid will be wildly rich. The tale of speculators in financial markets resonates well in today?s world, and Amsterdam society makes an interesting backdrop for Miguel?s personal tale.
Publishers Weekly, 2003-01-27 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. Copyright 2003 Cahners Business Information.
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