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The Last Dickens: 03/22/10

In The Last Dickens by Matthew Pearl the clerk of Dickens's American publisher is murdered at the docks. He had been there to hopefully pick up a shipment of notes for the author's unfinished serial, The Mystery of Edwin Drood. When there is no sign of the package the publisher and the clerk's sister go to London in search of an ending for Drood.

As anyone who has seen the Doctor Who episode "The Unquiet Dead" knows that Charles Dickens died in 1870. When he died he was only half way through Drood.
James Osgood on his trip to London comes up with a hopeful notion that Dickens wrote his serial front to back, so that the first published episodes were actually the last ones he wrote. In his search for the missing manuscripts he ends up solving another mystery.

Besides being about the last months of Dickens's life, the novel has flashbacks to a previous trip Dickens took to the United States and other installments involving Dickens's son Frank who lives and works in India. These asides from the main plot may seem out of place but they are well within keeping with Pearl's approach to writing. Each of Pearl's novels is written in the style of the author he's highlighting. His first book is just as grotesque and lyrical as Dante's Inferno; his second reads like a Gothic detective story and this one is Dickensian.

When my friend brought Matthew Pearl's latest novel, The Last Dickens to our BookCrossing meeting, I snagged it. I set aside the other book I was reading and made it my "must read now" book. It ended up being one of my favorites books for 2009.

Comments (2)

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Comment #1: Monday, March, 22, 2010 at 19:23:03


Oh, I am so glad that you liked this one! I listened to it last summer and loved it!!

Comment #2: Monday, March 22, 2010 at 22:43:29


I've enjoyed all three of his books but I think The Last Dickens is my favorite.

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