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Saturday, May 2, 2009

The Last Dickens by Matthew Pearl

James R. Osgood is a publisher in 1870's Boston. The publishing company is all set to publish Charles Dickens' last novel, The Mystery of Edwin Drood, and have published the first six installments, when they learn of Dickens' untimely death at the age of 28 years. Daniel Sand, a clerk, is killed while trying to get the next installment to Osgood. Osgood and one of his bookkeeper's, Rebecca Sand who is Daniel's sister, go to London to try to discover how Dickens intended the novel to be finished. They hope that the quest will save the floundering business and help them discover Daniel's killer. The journey is fraught with danger and mystery with false friends and enemies that turn out to be friendly.
It was unfortunate for the author that his book was published so soon after Dan Simmon's Drood. It is nowhere near as good as Drood which covers pretty much the same topic but in a much better way. There was much more detail in Drood and a more interesting plot. The Last Dickens suffered from too many distractions, such as the action in India, which interrupted the flow of the plot. It is still a worthy read especially if you like historical fiction and mysteries. There is some profanity but not too much. Rated PG.

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