Synopses & Reviews
In his most enthralling novel yet, the critically acclaimed author Matthew Pearl reopens one of literary history's greatest mysteries. The Last Dickens
is a tale filled with the dazzling twists and turns, the unerring period details, and the meticulous research that thrilled readers of the bestsellers The Dante Club
and The Poe Shadow
Boston, 1870. When news of Charles Dickens's untimely death reaches the office of his struggling American publisher, Fields & Osgood, partner James Osgood sends his trusted clerk Daniel Sand to await the arrival of Dickens's unfinished novel. But when Daniel's body is discovered by the docks and the manuscript is nowhere to be found, Osgood must embark on a transatlantic quest to unearth the novel that he hopes will save his venerable business and reveal Daniel's killer.
Danger and intrigue abound on the journey to England, for which Osgood has chosen Rebecca Sand, Daniel's older sister, to assist him. As they attempt to uncover Dickens's final mystery, Osgood and Rebecca find themselves racing the clock through a dangerous web of literary lions and drug dealers, sadistic thugs and blue bloods, and competing members of Dickens's inner circle. They soon realize that understanding Dickens's lost ending is a matter of life and death, and the hidden key to stopping a murderous mastermind.
"Bestseller Pearl (The Poe Shadow) delivers a period thriller that has the misfortune to fall short of the high standard set by Dan Simmons's Drood (Reviews, Nov. 24), which also centers on Charles Dickens's final, unfinished novel, The Mystery of Edwin Drood. After the author dies in 1870, a series of suspicious deaths leads Dickens's U.S. publisher, James Osgood, to suspect they may be connected with the solution to the novel's puzzle. Accompanied by attractive bookkeeper Rebecca Sand, the sister of one of the victims, Osgood travels from Boston to England to seek clues to Drood's missing conclusion. The action shifts to India, where Charles's son Francis is a superintendent of the Bengal Mounted Police, and back in time, to the novelist's last American tour in 1867. Some awkward prose distracts ('There were several other grim faces at dinner that, like some imperceptible force, spread a dark cloud over the levity'), while the ending may strike some readers as a cop-out." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"[Pearl has] prodigious command of mystery and intrigue [and is] at the very forefront of contemporary novelists."
Caleb Carr, author of The Alienist
"[The Last Dickens is] a pleasing whodunit that resolves nicely, bookending Dan Simmons's novel Drood (2009) as an imaginative exercise in what might be called alternative literary history." Kirkus
"Well executed and tightly controlled...extremely clever." Los Angeles Times
About the Author
Matthew Pearl is the New York Times bestselling author of The Dante Club and The Poe Shadow, and the editor of the Modern Library editions of Dante's Inferno (translated by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow) and Edgar Allan Poe's The Murders in the Rue Morgue: The Dupin Tales. Pearl is a graduate of Harvard University and Yale Law School and has taught literature at Harvard and at Emerson College. He lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts.