The Last Dickens
by Matthew Pearl
Pearl plunges the reader into the world of 1870, skillfully blending historical fact and literary fiction into a riveting tale about Charles Dickens’ unfinished last novel, The Mystery of Edwin Drood.
Drawing on original letters and newspapers, Pearl recounts the extraordinary celebrity of Dickens during his speaking tour of America, at a time when hundreds would line up overnight, enduring freezing temperatures in the hopes of obtaining tickets to his sold out shows.
The mystery begins when the seedy underworld of the opium trade washes ashore in Boston Harbor with tragic results. Daniel Sands, a young apprentice for publisher Fields, Osgood, & Co., is killed while on an errand to pick up the coveted manuscript of Dickens’ last serial installment of Drood.
Daniel’s mentor, James Osgood (of the aforementioned Fields, Osgood, & Co.) is disbelieving of the police’s insinuation that Daniel was involved with opium. In an effort to unravel the mystery, Osgood and Daniel’s sister Rebecca set sail for London to investigate the recently deceased Dickens’ papers. They hope the answers to Daniel’s death might lie in the missing ending to Drood.
Intelligent and fun, The Last Dickens is chock full of insights into the history of publishing, the politics of opium, and the trials and triumphs of literary genius.
Pearl has garnered acclaim for his previous books, The Dante Club and The Poe Shadow. His well-researched literary mysteries are thoroughly enjoyable, and particularly appealing to avid readers. They are literally literary. His titles say it all.
Monday, May 18, 2009
The Last Dickens