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Publisher's Summary

In this 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.

©2003 David Liss; (P)2003 Books on Tape, Inc.; Published in arrangement with Random House Audio Publishing Group, a division of Random House, Inc.

Critic Reviews

"Unusual and diverting." (The New York Times Book Review)
"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 members say

Average Customer Ratings


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  • Overall
  • Robert
  • Burlingame, CA, USA
  • 08-15-06


I've rated everything I've ever downloaded from Audible and this is only the second time I've given a 5 Star (the previous being a Jules Verne classic from 150 years ago!). Perhaps it's because I related to the novel's elements so much: Once upon a time I was a Foreign Exhange Trader; a Cafe Barrista; and have spent many, many nights in Amsterdam!

"The Coffee Trader" is one of those super-rare stories which sticks in my head long after listening to it on my morning & evening work commutes. I've had to snap myself out of a daze at work many mornings after listening to this on the way in. I noticed I was counting down the hours till closing time so I could hear what would happen to Miguel next!

David Liss' tale has it all: lust, greed, envy, humor, tension, you name it. Grind some dark roast beans; take a deep sip; and transport yourself to 17th Century Holland for a few hours. It'll be a journey you won't soon forget!

13 of 13 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

exciting history of trade

Go back into the 1600's with this exciting tale of trade, intrigue, the crazy quilt of Amsterdam and the aftermath of the Inquisition. Great book, read by the incomparable David Lee

16 of 17 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

A fantastic listen

I really enjoyed both the story and the reader. Every now and then I choose an audio book that makes me wish for long commutes and more traffic, and The Coffee Trader is that kind of book. The story was interesting and the author's believable accents add to the drama and fun of the story. Very highly recommended!

6 of 6 people found this review helpful

  • Overall


I enjoyed this book about Jews in Holland several hundred years ago. The main character had so many problems that I began to worry about what the ending might be, but was pleasantly surprised. The reader was excellent, as well. I recommend this book.

6 of 6 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • despinne
  • Edgewater, MD, United States
  • 03-13-08

Medieval Scam Artist

After listening to this story a few months ago, parts of it keep returning to my conscious thinking. Although the tale does not seem complex, there are many threads to pull together, which is done nicely by the author. Memorable intersecting plot(s), interesting, well written and read. And it ends happily.

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Ariel
  • Los Angeles, CA, USA
  • 09-23-06

So Good I had to say something!

I have been an audible customer for quite a while and have yet to be inclined to put my two cents in...until I listened to this book. This novel was intriguing from page 1, and unlike many other books I couldn't stop listening until it was over. John Lee's narration couldn't have been better. Everything including the characters, plot, and historical content were beautifully written!!!

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Andrew
  • Halifax, NS, Canada
  • 08-11-06

Exciting Historical Fiction

From the first paragraph I was captivated by this book and its characters. Spent most of the weekend devoted to listening to the book, (I normally listen to a book of this length over 1-2 weeks), couldn't proverbially put it down!! If you enjoy historical fiction and intricate and esoteric plots that keep you reading, this is a great listen.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • CFH
  • Memphis, TN USA
  • 01-31-07


This book sounded like just the sort of thing I would like. Historical setting. Intrigue. Suspense. Throw in the stock market and coffee for good measure and I was all set for a delightful excursion into another world.

Perhaps the setting was well researched and portrayed. I did glean a bit historical information along the way, which I always count as a good thing. However, I did not find the excursion delightful at all. For the first time, I gave up on an audiobook. After slogging through about two thirds of it, I realized that I just didn't care what happened to the characters. I had no interest in what would happen next. In fact, I rather dreaded turning my player back on. If there was supposed to be suspense in the air, it wasn't coming through to me.

Perhaps others listeners will be more interested in some of the specific aspects of the story and that will help them maintain their interest. For me, it was a relief to just give up the effort and move on to The Thirteenth Tale - which, by the way, was fantastic

11 of 13 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

Excelent historical thriller

Excelent complex historical thriller with a fine narration that conveys all the ambience of the a past time.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall


Great re-creation of the world of mid 17th century European traders. Rich characters and complex plot. Very enjoyable!

4 of 5 people found this review helpful