Matthew Pearl

The novelist recommends three works of mystery and adventure.

In atmospheric thrillers like The Dante Club and The Poe Shadow, Matthew Pearl thrusts literary and historical icons into tales of white-knuckle suspense. His new novel, The Technologists, takes readers to a gaslit Boston where the budding young scientists of M.I.T.’s first class are faced with an apparently supernatural mystery. Here, he recommends three favorite books that straddle the divide between thought experiment and pulpy pleasure.

Books by Matthew Pearl


The Astounding, the Amazing, and the Unknown

By Paul Malmont

“Here science fiction and science converge in, thrillingly, a completely believable way. What a story: the great sci-fi writers of the pulp era (Asimov, Heinlein, etc.) are recruited by the government to devise innovations to help the cause in WWII. With some basis in real events, Malmont’s novel impresses me in the way it seamlessly balances history with fiction, and tribute with originality.”


Dust and Shadow

By Lyndsay Faye

“Jack the Ripper is such a perennial subject, and Faye finds just the right style and tone to take a fresh approach with Sherlock Holmes chasing down the killer. It is so tempting to apply modern forensics to unsolved past crimes like the Whitechapel murders, but Faye manages to give insight without being anachronistic not only by choosing Holmes but also by doing such a fantastic job of recreating the character and his cutting edge scientific analysis. Faye will make you believe this is how it happened.”


The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde

By Robert Lewis Stevenson

“Stevenson’s short classic is a bit of a victim of its own success. Like Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, there are so many pop culture adaptations and re-imaginings that the actual accomplishment of the original can get lost. Also like Frankenstein, the science itself is hazy yet perhaps more believable to readers today than to those who read contemporaneously. Perhaps most interesting is the portrayal of Jekyll and what it says about early perceptions of science and scientific experimentation. You will read this in one or two days but will think about it for a long time.”