Title: The Last Dickens
Author: Matthew Pearl
Release Date: October 6, 2009
Publisher: Random House
Genre: Mystery, Historical Fiction
Source: TLC Book Tours
Rating: 4 out of 5
The death of Charles Dickens has sent his American publishers into a tumult. They are desperate to receive the last installments of his book, The Mystery of Edwin Drood so they can publish it before their rivals rip them off. James Osgood sends one of his clerks to meet the ship and pick up the last pages Dickens wrote, but he is mysteriously murdered en route and the pages go missing. His death plunges Osgood into a race to find the end to Dickens’ last, unfinished work.
I really enjoyed Matthew Pearl’s The Dante Club, so when the opportunity arose to review The Last Dickens, I jumped at the chance. I love how Matthew Pearl takes old literary figures and books and weaves historical mysteries around them. They are musts for lovers of classic works, but they also can be enjoyed by anyone who likes a good mystery.
The Last Dickens is a wonderfully written book. Pearl is an expert at creating atmosphere with specific historical details, a skill that he has finely honed in his last two novels. This makes the reader really feel like they are in the 19th century, witnessing events as they are happening. Pearl fully immerses the reader in the story; as a result, historical fiction lovers will find as much to love in this novel as mystery lovers will.
Matthew Pearl also creates wonderful three-dimensional characters that the reader really gets to know in The Last Dickens. I loved reading about Charles Dickens as a larger-than-life figure. I didn’t know much about Dickens and had only read one of his books prior to picking up this novel, but that didn’t diminish my enjoyment of it. Additionally, the description of the American publishing world in the 1800’s was fascinating and really made the novel worth reading.
The mystery in The Last Dickens is well-crafted and intricate. It’s difficult to tell where the novel is going, and there’s no way the reader can predict all the twists and turns that Pearl is going to take them through. However, that also means it’s incredibly complicated. There are a lot of characters in this novel and it can be difficult to follow at times. While it’s a very engaging book, the sheer density of the plot can be tough.
Though The Last Dickens was slow at times, it was a book that was definitely worth reading. Pearl creates a wonderful atmosphere with a mystery that book lovers will relish. I enjoyed reading this novel and definitely recommend it.