Sunday, October 4, 2009

The Last Dickens- Matthew Pearl

The Last Dickens
Matthew Pearl
Random House, Oct 6 2009, $15.00
ISBN: 9780812978025

In 1870, Charles Dickens dies leaving his last novel The Mystery of Edwin Drood, unfinished. Soon afterward, several other deaths of people related to the great author occur. Especially stunning is the death of Daniel the office clerk messenger who ran to the docks to retrieve the last chapter of Drood and deliver it to his boss, Dickens's Boston based publisher, James Osgood. Not only is the trustworthy Daniel dead in suspicious circumstances, that valuable finished manuscript is missing; leaving behind only six chapters previously published.

Ruling out murder-theft by a rival house and not one to sit idly back in American hoping for a miracle, Osgood decides to go to England to learn more about his late client’s death and what happened to the final chapter. Traveling with Osgood from America is bookkeeper Rebecca Sand, whose late brother is one of the deceased apparently associated with Dickens; she wants to know how he died.

The story line is fast-paced from the moment Osgood (real persona) learns of Dickens’s death and never slows down even with flashbacks of the writer’s son stationed in India as a superintendent of the Bengal Mounted Police and the 1867 author’s tour of America. Fans will enjoy this fine Victorian Era mystery loaded with genuine historical facts and people, and intriguing Dickens trivia. Different from the also entertaining Drood by Dan Simmons, Matthew Pearl provides an entertaining very British final solution to the Mystery of Edwin Drood.

Harriet Klausner

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