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Publisher's Summary

The Edgar Award-winning novel A Conspiracy of Paper was one of the most acclaimed debuts of 2000.  

In his richly suspenseful second novel, author David Liss once again travels back in time to a crucial moment in cultural and financial history. His destination: Amsterdam, 1659 - a mysterious world of trade populated by schemers and rogues, where deception rules the day.

On the world's first commodities exchange, fortunes are won and lost in an instant. Miguel Lienzo, a sharp-witted trader in the city's close-knit community of Portuguese Jews, knows this only too well. Once among the city's most envied merchants, Miguel has lost everything in a sudden shift in the sugar markets. Now, impoverished and humiliated, living on the charity of his petty younger brother, Miguel must find a way to restore his wealth and reputation.

Miguel enters into a partnership with a seductive Dutchwoman who offers him one last chance at success - a daring plot to corner the market of an astonishing new commodity called "coffee". To succeed, Miguel must risk everything he values and test the limits of his commercial guile, facing not only the chaos of the markets and the greed of his competitors, but also a powerful enemy who will stop at nothing to see him ruined. Miguel will learn that among Amsterdam's ruthless businessmen, betrayal lurks everywhere, and even friends hide secret agendas.

With humor, imagination, and mystery, David Liss depicts a world of subterfuge, danger, and repressed longing, where religious and cultural traditions clash with the demands of a new and exciting way of doing business. Fans of historical suspense and lovers of coffee (even decaf) will be up all night with this beguiling novel. 

©2003 David Liss (P)2003 Random House, Inc. Random House Audio, a division of Random House, Inc.

Critic Reviews

“A novel overflowing with intrigue and duplicity... Once you’ve wandered the back alleys of Amsterdam with David Liss, you’ll never look at your morning cup of coffee the same way again!”(Sheri Holman, author of The Dress Lodger and The Mammoth Cheese

“In his second novel, David Liss creates his own genre: the historical noir. The seventeenth-century Amsterdam he depicts is a wonderfully dark city of secrets, roiling with deceitful maneuverings and caffeine-fueled perils. The Coffee Trader is vivid, utterly absorbing, and more than a little relevant to our current age of financial skulduggery.” (Gary Krist, author of Extravagance

“Masterfully plotted, brilliantly imagined, The Coffee Trader brims with intelligence, intrigue, and suspense. David Liss has written a riveting novel about commerce and faith, loyalty and greed.” (Tova Mirvis, author of The Ladies Auxiliary)

What listeners say about The Coffee Trader

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars

Informative and Intriguing

This is a good story mixed with several plot lines that all wind and really payoff at the story's conclusion. With the entire story taking place in 17th century Amsterdam, the narrative blends historical intricacies of renaissance economics rather well. There are very few visuals or colorful descriptions of the time and place, which disappointed me, as all exposition is done through conversations and plot development.

However, it is a good read and you'll find yourself emerged in the dangerous game that the story's lead characted seems doomed to play.

Enjoy

2 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars

Well done

A wonderful recreation of Amsterdam and its first taste of coffee. Also an incredible introduction to how business was conducted in the 17th Century. The narrator had the perfect tone for the tale even if each character might have been somewhat better drawn vocally.
I agree with the earlier reviewer that it is a fairly good abridgement but the book really does such a suberb portrait of the details of the time, that it would have been nice to see this one done as an unabridged recording. BUT it still works extremely well as is. I guess like any good work, it left me wanting more.

2 people found this helpful

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    1 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars
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Disappointing

What could have made this a 4 or 5-star listening experience for you?

Although 'The Coffee Trader' had all the elements for a wonderful and exciting historical adventure, however it remained superficial and became predictable.

What could David Liss have done to make this a more enjoyable book for you?

More character development was deeply needed. I never really felt for the characters. Their intertwining lives, the primary plot point of the book, lacked a sense of depth and complexity.

Would you be willing to try another one of Graeme Malcolm’s performances?

Graeme Malcom did a fine job.

Any additional comments?

Generally the book was anemic.