This memoir was occasionally funny, but not nearly as much as I expected or hoped. My other issue with this book was the language. I'm no prude, but I expect authors (and others) to rise above the base impulse to swear for shock value. Not funny. Where do you go from there? I found the "effing" to be a real downer. Otherwise not a bad book, but I won't be listening to it twice, or recommending it.
First off, why over 100 chapters, plus several "interludes". Author with ADHD?
I give this book overall 4/5 stars for the multitude of interesting characters, multiple intertwining storylines and good pacing. I had to take 1 off for annoying anachronisms and some heavy-handedness in the writing.
The time is 1888 Victorian London, when the Scotland Yard detectives are facing bad PR after not solving the Ripper case and their small team is tasked with 10,000 disappearances a year in the city. A fellow detective is murdered, and they want to provide "closure" for his family. Closure? Did they really say that in 1888? Did they use the term "forensic technology"?? And so on. And most people familiar with Victorian London have heard of Henry Mayhew, so why confuse readers with a half-witted character of the same name (but not the same social researcher and writer)? The real Mayhew died in 1887. Strange choices.
The Hammersmith and Day detective characters are strong enough that we may see a sequel featuring them, but I hope they won't discover DNA or blood spatter analysis ahead of their time.
I can hardly say how much I loved this book! It kept me fascinated (and up way too late at night) from beginning to end, and it has also opened up new literary doors for me that are just as interesting and exciting. This book will haunt you, as its main character, real-life writer and sometimes collaborator of Dickins, Wilkie Collins is haunted in the story. Since listening to this book a few weeks ago, I have now also heard the original "Mystery of Edwin Drood" and several of Collins' stories. I have also, unfortunately, wasted the time and money spent on "The Last Dickins" by Matthew Pearl (separate review on that book). The narration in "Drood" is excellent, the storyline enthralling, and the story SO well told. You sometimes do not know if you are listening to a story brought on by opium-induced hallucination or perhaps mesmerism (hypnosis), or neither. The tie-in with the characters of the real unfinished "Edwin Drood" story is seamless and inspired -- by the time you read/listen to the Dickins' original you feel that you already know so much behind-the-scenes information that you feel like a knowing "insider". I am now anxious to read some of the fanciful endings for "The Mystery of Edwin Drood" written over the years, and more Dickins, and Collins, of course. At 10-1/2 hours, this book is too short. What a shame is was abridged! In fact, when it had ended, rather than starting on my next book, I went back to the beginning and listened for another hour or so.
What a great book this is!
Of the two recently-published books about Dickins' "The Mystery of Edwin Drood", by far the best book is "Drood" by Dan Simmons. I listened to this book first, and was absolutely enthralled. It so swept me up that I then listened to "The Mystery of Edwin Drood" itself, and several Wilkie Collins' books (Dickins' sometimes collaborator). I then took on "The Last Dickins". What a disappointment! Yes, it is well researched, but the facts are clumsily inserted in the overly-long, dull story. By the time of the Big Finish, I could not have cared less. Everything about this book doesn't work. If you are interested in the Drood legacy, then "Drood" by Simmons is your only choice; pass this one by. For those who have listened to/read it already, what is the point of all those goings-on in India?? I could not wait for this to end. Now I'm on to "Our Mutual Friend".
For some reason, I was originally "put off" by the title of this book, thinking it a little over-cute or eccentric. I'm certainly glad I didn't let that stand in the way after all. This was one of the most enchanting books I have ever listened to! I really did not want it to end. The narrators capture the characters perfectly, and the story is both historically informative and romantic. This book is the perfect example of how an audiobook can be such a richer experience than simply reading a book oneself. The ending even sneaks up on you a bit - even if you suspected it, you barely dared hope for it. Very highly recommended.
I purchased this audiobook anticipating a Jack-the-Ripper like Victorian mystery story, which is sort-of in the book but rather indirectly and disjointedly. The story is mainly the present-day musings and activities of "the present Lord Nanther", whose life, despite infertility and a curiosity about his ancester, is really quite dull. The story of the ancester, the "Blood Doctor", is told through readings of his letters and other papers, and interviews with distant relatives who recount what they know about him. The story never really takes off into "mystery" mode, but just plods along adding the occasional tidbit of knowledge about the Blood Doctor and his attachment to two sisters (not to say too much). Yes, the present-day fellow unveils a dark secret about his ancester, but by that point we really don't care very much. I also felt the ending was a bit quickly "tied up", like the author was as tired of writing the story as I was of hearing it.
I bought this book for my 13 year old daughter, and decided to read it first so that I could make sure it wasn't too scary, and so that we could talk about it. Even though I was on vacation, I couldn't put it down. Wonderfully spooky and evocative -- and delightfully scary (but not too scary). Now I have the audiobook for my daughter, and other kids in the family. By the way, she really liked it too!
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