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The Dante Club: A Novelby Matthew Pearl
"In case Jerry Bruckheimer is reading this, here's the pitch: It's Super Friends meets 19th-century American literature! Matthew Pearl's debut novel, The Dante Club, is an audacious and captivating, if flawed, new book that imagines a string of unspeakable murders in Boston, each influenced by Dante's Inferno....Pearl's Dante scholarship is truly admirable, and hats off to anyone who's this passionate about the crazy Florentine — or, indeed, to anyone who's this passionate about anything." Adrienne Miller, Esquire (read the entire Esquire review)
Synopses & Reviews
Words can bleed.
In 1865 Boston, the literary geniuses of the Dante Club — poets and Harvard professors Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Dr. Oliver Wendell Holmes, and James Russell Lowell, along with publisher J. T. Fields — are finishing America’s first translation of The Divine Comedy and preparing to unveil Dante's remarkable visions to the New World. The powerful Boston Brahmins at Harvard College are fighting to keep Dante in obscurity, believing that the infiltration of foreign superstitions into American minds will prove as corrupting as the immigrants arriving at Boston Harbor.
The members of the Dante Club fight to keep a sacred literary cause alive, but their plans fall apart when a series of murders erupts through Boston and Cambridge. Only this small group of scholars realizes that the gruesome killings are modeled on the descriptions of Hell's punishments from Dante's Inferno. With the lives of the Boston elite and Dante's literary future in America at stake, the Dante Club members must find the killer before the authorities discover their secret.
Dr. Oliver Wendell Holmes and an outcast police officer named Nicholas Rey, the first black member of the Boston police department, must place their careers on the line to end the terror. Together, they discover that the source of the murders lies closer to home than they ever could have imagined.
The Dante Club is a magnificent blend of fact and fiction, a brilliantly realized paean to Dante's continued grip on our imagination, and a captivating thriller that will surprise readers from beginning to end.
"[A] gripping debut....Expertly weaving period detail, historical fact...complex character studies, and nail-biting suspense, Pearl has written a unique and utterly absorbing tale." Booklist (Starred Review)
"Ingenious use of details and motifs from the Divine Comedy, and a lively picture of the literary culture of post-bellum New England, distinguish this juicy debut historical mystery....Great fun figuring out whodunit and why: a devil of a time." Kirkus Reviews (Starred Review)
"[A] dazzler of a debut novel...a creative combo of edge-of-your-seat suspense, fully imagined characters, fictional and real, and an evocative, well-researched, well-realized setting that immerses the listener in another time and sensibility....Smart, exciting entertainment." BookPage
"The detective story is well plotted, and Pearl's recreation of the contentious world of mid-19th-century academia is engrossing, even though some of its more ambitious elements...are somewhat clunky....[A]n ambitious and often entertaining thriller that may remind readers of Caleb Carr." Publishers Weekly
"This first-rate thriller breathes such life into the genre that the term 'thrilling' genuinely applies. Matthew Pearl not only succeeds with a deft and elegant plot, but delivers an eloquent and quirky message for our times about the value of literary heroes. In The Dante Club we are privileged to meet the most unlikely quartet of sleuths." Gregory Maguire, author of Wicked and Lost
"A fascinating, erudite, and highly entertaining account of a remarkable moment in American literary history." Iain Pears, author of An Instance of the Fingerpost
"[I]ngenious....Mr. Pearl, with this captivating brain teaser as his debut novel, seems...to have put his life's work on the line in melding scholarship with mystery. He does justice to both." Janet Maslin, The New York Times
"[A]n absorbing and dramatic period piece. Using historical figures in a mystery setting is not a new idea...but Pearl has proven himself a master." Library Journal
"Matthew Pearl is the new shining star of literary fiction — a heady, inventive, and immensely gifted author. With intricate plots, classical themes, and erudite characters...what's not to love?" Dan Brown, author of The Da Vinci Code
"Pearl...is at his best when discussing The Divine Comedy but is less suited to the generic demands of the thriller, which leads to obvious, and gruesome, B-movie plotting." The New Yorker
"This novel is as erudite as it is bloody....The Dante Club is a unique, ambitious, entertaining read, a historical thriller with a poetic streak." The Baltimore Sun
"Though polished and well crafted, the book does occasionally suffer from excess verbiage....Pearl's great service to Dante ultimately resides in his talent of integrating The Divine Comedy into the flow of his characters' lives." Los Angeles Times
"The book is endlessly clever — it even has a carriage chase that will come in handy if the novel comes to the screen. Pearl pokes fun at politicians and at academics like himself." Houston Chronicle
In 1865 Boston, the literary geniuses of the Dante Club are finishing America's first translation of The Divine Comedy and preparing to unveil Dante's remarkable visions to the New World. This is a magnificent blend of fact and fiction, a brilliantly realized paean to Dante's continued grip on imagination, and a captivating thriller that will surprise readers from beginning to end.
The New York Times Bestseller
Boston, 1865. A series of murders, all of them inspired by scenes in Dantes Inferno. Only an elite group of Americas first Dante scholars—Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Oliver Wendell Holmes, James Russell Lowell, and J. T. Fields—can solve the mystery. With the police baffled, more lives endangered, and Dantes literary future at stake, the Dante Club must shed its sheltered literary existence and find the killer.
About the Author
Matthew Pearl graduated from Harvard University summa cum laude in English and American Literature in 1997, and in 2000 from Yale Law School, where he wrote the first draft of The Dante Club. In 1998, he won the prestigious Dante Prize from the Dante Society of America for his scholarly work. He is also the editor of the new Modern Library edition of Dante's Inferno, translated by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. He grew up in Fort Lauderdale and currently lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts. The Dante Club is his first novel. He can be reached via his website, www.thedanteclub.com.
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