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The Dante Club | [Matthew Pearl]

The Dante Club

In Pearl's stunning debut, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Oliver Wendell Holmes and James Russell Lowell join forces to catch a serial killer whose gruesome murders are modeled on the torturous punishments of Dante's Hell. "Absorbing and dramatic...Pearl has proven himself a master." (Library Journal)
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Publisher's Summary

In 1865 Boston, the members of the Dante Club - poets and Harvard professors Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Dr. Oliver Wendell Holmes, and James Russell Lowell, along with publisher J.T. Fields - are preparing to unveil Dante's remarkable visions to the New World. The powerful Boston Brahmins at Harvard College are fighting to keep Dante in obscurity, believing that the infiltration of foreign superstitions onto American bookshelves will prove as corrupting as the immigrants living in Boston Harbor.

As they struggle to keep their sacred literary cause alive, the plans of the Dante Club are put in further jeopardy when a serial killer unleashes his terror on the city. Only the scholars realize that the gruesome murders are modeled on the descriptions from Dante's Inferno and its account of Hell's torturous punishments. With the lives of the Boston elite and Dante's literary future in America at stake, the Dante Club must find the killer before the authorities discover their secret.

Dr. Oliver Wendell Holmes and outcast police officer Nicholas Rey, the first black member of the Boston police department, place their careers on the line in their efforts to end the killing spree. Together, they discover that the source of the murders lies closer than they ever could have imagined.

The Dante Club is a magnificent blend of fact and fiction, a brilliantly realized paean to Dante, his mythic genius, and his continued grip on our imaginations.

©2003 Matthew Pearl, All Rights Reserved; (P)2003 Simon & Schuster Inc., All Rights Reserved.

What the Critics Say

"Expertly weaving period detail, historical fact (the Dante Club did indeed exist), complex character studies, and nail-biting suspense, Pearl has written a unique and utterly absorbing tale." (Booklist, Starred Review)
"Absorbing and dramatic...Pearl has proven himself a master." (Library Journal)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

3.4 (131 )
5 star
 (24)
4 star
 (35)
3 star
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2 star
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1 star
 (9)
Overall
3.5 (13 )
5 star
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3 star
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1 star
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Story
4.0 (12 )
5 star
 (3)
4 star
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3 star
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2 star
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Performance
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  •  
    Pamela Beckley, WV, USA 04-08-03
    Pamela Beckley, WV, USA 04-08-03 Member Since 2002
    HELPFUL VOTES
    48
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    41
    10
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    "Join the club"

    If you can't get enough mysteries to fill your listening time, this one is worth a try. It's a quaint, historical, literary mystery that starts slowly, but has lots of twists and turns. Not the best I've come across, but not the worst. An interesting look a Boston in the 1800's.

    12 of 12 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Verdi Joe Alamo, CA United States 02-01-04
    Verdi Joe Alamo, CA United States 02-01-04 Listener Since 2003
    HELPFUL VOTES
    16
    ratings
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    24
    3
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    "Poorly edited"

    This was disappointing. I didn't realize that this was an abridged version of the book. However,after going back several times thinking that my mind must have wandered, I came to realize that it wasn't my fault after all. Rather,it was the writing, or specifically the editing. Too bad, because the narrator does an exemplary job of vocal inflection, accents and nuances. Furthermore, there is much to glean from the subject matter, but it's too bad an unabridged version is not available (or at least I couldn't find one).

    9 of 9 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Marian Paulina Clymer, PA United States 06-27-03
    Marian Paulina Clymer, PA United States 06-27-03 Member Since 2003
    HELPFUL VOTES
    9
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    533
    6
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    "Dark yet enjoyable"

    This was a well read mystery that held my attention so that at times I didn't want to shut it off. The narration is excellent and the characters so believable that at times I laughed out loud at the their antics while trying to solve the mystery. It's not overly complicated and a relatively short book but certainly worth a listen.

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jimmy Willow Springs, MO, USA 02-29-04
    Jimmy Willow Springs, MO, USA 02-29-04
    HELPFUL VOTES
    159
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    "Original Story, Bad Abridgement"

    The Dante Club is one of the most original story concepts to come along in awhile. The story take place in post-Civil War Boston/Cambridge and someone is killing well-known residents using Dante's Inferno as inspiration -- very original. Boyd Gaines does a relatively good job narrating the story, giving distinct Bostonian accents to each of the characters; although, one did sound too much like Thurston Howell, III. Even with the original concept and excellent historical characters, this reading suffered from a choppy abridgement. At times it seemed like the story jumped entire chapters. If you love a good, original, historically researched mystery, then The Dante Club is a good choice, even with the bad abridgement.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Sonia Toronto, ON, Canada 05-23-03
    Sonia Toronto, ON, Canada 05-23-03
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Excellent Fiction"

    The character portaits of real persons is admirably realized in this dark mystery.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Richard MOUNT KISCO, NY, USA 12-26-03
    Richard MOUNT KISCO, NY, USA 12-26-03
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    Overall
    "Tough to get in to."

    Not a terrible mystery but a bit slow paced for my taste. I found the plot pretty interesting but either the writing or the narration (it's hard to tell sometimes which is more important) was such that it moved very slowly especially in the beginning.

    I had several false starts with this - deleting it from my OTIS and then re-doing it again until I finally worked my way through.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Thomas Francis Neal III Atlanta, GA USA 11-05-03
    Thomas Francis Neal III Atlanta, GA USA 11-05-03 Member Since 2002

    tfn3

    HELPFUL VOTES
    7
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    4
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    "Don't waste your time with abridged version"

    The beauty of this book is in the detail like "Club Dumas" or "DaVinci Code," and that's lost in this abridgment.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Katherine olympia, WA, United States 07-14-10
    Katherine olympia, WA, United States 07-14-10
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    2
    2
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    "long"

    long and boring

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Stephen Green Bay, WI, United States 01-30-05
    Stephen Green Bay, WI, United States 01-30-05 Member Since 2004

    Retired Neurologist. Age 67. Prefer longer unabridged works. Hobbies include flyfishing, gardening, birding, photography. Enjoy a mix.

    HELPFUL VOTES
    41
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    Overall
    "The Dante Club"

    Rather than repititious characterizations of the poets more energy should have been spent moving this mystery along. Was Longfellow really like that? This was for me a little known era and scene with great potential getting poorly stirred with the mystery, though scenes of immediate post-Civil War Boston were interesting. I did manage to get to the end, I think. I am aware it was fictional.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Carter Norman, OK, USA 10-21-04
    Carter Norman, OK, USA 10-21-04 Member Since 2001
    HELPFUL VOTES
    9
    ratings
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    3
    2
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    Overall
    "Best of historical novel"

    The Dante Club is a fascinating mystery that pulls you through the book. The genre adds the attraction of historical facts to the magic of fiction. While enjoying the classic who-done-it mystery you also pick up new insights to Dante's Divine Comedy and early day Cambridge.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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