Boston, 1870. When news of Charles Dickens's untimely death reaches the office of his struggling American publisher, Fields & Osgood, partner James Osgood sends his trusted clerk Daniel Sand to await the arrival of Dickens's unfinished novel. But when Daniel's body is discovered by the docks and the manuscript is nowhere to be found, Osgood must embark on a transatlantic quest to unearth the novel that he hopes will save his venerable business and reveal Daniel's killer.
Danger and intrigue abound on the journey to England, for which Osgood has chosen Rebecca Sand, Daniel's older sister, to assist him. As they attempt to uncover Dickens's final mystery, Osgood and Rebecca find themselves racing the clock through a dangerous web of literary lions and drug dealers, sadistic thugs and blue bloods, and competing members of Dickens's inner circle. They soon realize that understanding Dickens's lost ending is a matter of life and death, and the hidden key to stopping a murderous mastermind.
©2009 Matthew Pearl; (P)2009 Random House, Inc
"Matthew Pearl is the new shining star of literary fiction." (Dan Brown, author of The Da Vinci Code)
"[Pearl has] prodigious command of mystery and intrigue [and is] at the very forefront of contemporary novelists." (Caleb Carr, author of The Alienist)
I am 3/4 of the way through this book & am completely enjoying it. I was surprised to see that there weren't any current ratings. If you are considering this book, don't hesitate. It's chock full of all kinds of things. Historical fiction adventure mystery, skullduggery, the Opium Wars commentary on colonialism and even some timid Victorian romance. But wait there's more! Most of all it's a story about the first American Popstar, the great Dickens. I am already planning to get "Great Expectations" as my next listen. I can't give this 5 stars as I've not yet read the ending but it definitely has 5 star potential.
If you're interested in taking a step back in time and get a little personal with one of the greatest writers that ever lived get this book!
The Last Dickens is a poorly structured book. I'm not sure if the author let the facts get in the way of a good story, or simply was unable to come up with an engaging story line to fit the events he was trying to portray. The book feels clumsy, overly-long, and uninteresting. It's written in neither a modern tone, nor a tone worthy of a Dickens' piece, but rather some uninteresting hybrid of the two.
The reader, too, fails to bring any excitement to the story. His accents are very good, but his style is very, very deadpan, which doesn't lend itself to an already deadpan book.
The Last Dickens certainly captures the period and the mood surrounding the publication of The Mystery of Edwin Drood, but the characters come off as rather flat and uninteresting. The best sequences involve Irishman Tom Brannigan protecting Dickens during his American tour, told in flashback. The main storyline didn't hold my interest, and the ending falls flat.
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".
None of Pearl's books is great literature, but this latest attempt is downright embarrassing. The writing is dull, tedious and banal. And the reader is less than compelling. I find the book a waste of time and a sad waste of a good Audible credit!
I enjoyed the book but not nearly as much as The Dante Club. I learned quite a bit about India, the opium trade, publishing, Dickens' tours in the US. But some of the dialogue was just silly.
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Other than gaining some historical info on the life and times of Mr Dickens I didn't enjoy this book. The plot jumped beteween 2 time periods and the characteres were not strongly drawn. I did enjoy learning about Dickens "rock star" fame in the US
I was definatly taken in by this one. Ifelt like they used Dickens to sell and really lousy story. Dickens was up, he was down, he was in america, he was home. Really, was a book that you can easily find out was never published worthy of so many tedious hours of storytelling?
It is not only a great mystery convencing to the point that the reader might wonder if this was a "true story" about Dickens demise and his last unfinished novel if not for the fantasy elements. It clearly depicts Dickens and the literary world in America during those years, where writers and choices were limited and anything was fair in the publishing houses. In not a delicate way it touches on the opium trade and the role of the British Army forcing India to grow opium to finance England’s trade with China who in turn were forced to accept opium as payment. So in reality the British Army were ordered to be little more than thugs and drug runners thus demonstrating the abuse of power exerted by empires and rulers who fed in the blood and misery of many to fund their armies and the lavish life styles of the rulers and the rich
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