Customer Reviews for

The Dante Club

Average Rating 3.5
( 140 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(47)

4 Star

(44)

3 Star

(25)

2 Star

(12)

1 Star

(12)

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Most Helpful Favorable Review

7 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

excellent

the beginning is a little slow and difficult to get into, but continuing on is a thrill. the story picks up quite nicely and takes some exciting, unexpected turns. I for one could not put the book down!

posted by Anonymous on September 18, 2008

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Most Helpful Critical Review

5 out of 10 people found this review helpful.

One of the worst books I've ever read...

...and I've read a lot of books. I truly despised the book. I, too, picked it up because of the Dan Brown recommendation, since I was looking for some historical fiction similar to the Da Vinci Code. However, this is as about as far from the Da Vinci Code that one can g...
...and I've read a lot of books. I truly despised the book. I, too, picked it up because of the Dan Brown recommendation, since I was looking for some historical fiction similar to the Da Vinci Code. However, this is as about as far from the Da Vinci Code that one can get. It is dull and pretentious. And the writing is truly terrible. One Good writing should go unnoticed, but I stopped reading mid-sentence many times to gawk at Pearl's style. It is as if the writer is trying to use as many five-dollar words as possible, just to prove he can. The plot is slow and unengaging. Just thinking of this book makes me shudder. I think I'll wait for Dan Brown's Solomon Key to come out instead of attempting to scout out any more good historical fiction.

posted by NonPersa on March 23, 2009

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  • Posted December 20, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    A solid historical mystery

    "John Kurtz, the chief of the Boston police, breathed in some of his heft for a better fit between the two chambermaids." This is the first sentence of this book and it gives us a glimpse into the style of Matthew Pearl's writing. It's clever and witty but not simplistic and at a time when majority of books are written in such a conversational language it's a pleasant change of pace. It also fits the period and serves to create the atmosphere of the formality common in the higher levels of the 19th century society even in familiar company. And what a company it is! Longfellow, Holmes and Lowell were the rock stars of their time and yet Pearl paints such intimate and vivid portraits of them that by the time I turned the last page I felt like I knew them and their doting families. Of course this wasn't accidental - the author perused the poets' personal archives as part of his research for the novel. It still is delightful to see historical figures come to life the way they do here.
    With amateurs acting as investigators it would be easy to categorize the book as a cozy mystery but I would say it falls somewhere between that and a hold-on-to-your-seat thriller, thanks to the fast pace and the gruesomeness of the murders, which are described in rather graphic detail. Of course this is 19th century poets being detectives so they were more horrified than majority of us readers would be, what with TV being what it is nowadays.
    I appreciated that Mr. Pearl included some information on the plot and characters of Inferno as part of the story - I haven't read Dante yet and this saved me from having to put down the book to look things up online or wonder whether I've possibly missed something. It may seem a bit odd that Longfellow would need to explain what happened in the poem and why to his colleagues, all Dante efficionados, but it kept me reading so I'm not complaining.
    What also kept me reading is the elusiveness of the killer's identity. I like to guess who the culprit is as more clues are revealed and here there were plenty of candidates yet the real murder managed to hide in plain sight until the very end. Bonus points to Mr. Pearl for keeping up the suspense.
    This books is not just about Dante and murder though, it is also about the effects of war. The events take place after the Civil War and the effect it has on the American people as a whole and the separate individuals is very similar to what is happening in our country now with the veterans of the war in the Middle East coming home scarred for life, them and their families dealing with the consequences of their experiences every day. The gravity of this subject creates a stark contrast with the rest of the story. Granted, there are the horrors of the murders but the fact that it goes much deeper than the effects of literature on an unstable mind I think is as much a startling revelation for Holmes and the rest as it was for me, the reader. It helps demonstrate just how little their daily lives as litterateurs prepared them for the realities life outside of their gloved circle, the realities of hunting a killer.
    I would recommend this book to fans of historical fiction who appreciate a suspenseful mystery, intelligent storytelling, compelling characters and a villain you can't believe you missed.

    7 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 18, 2008

    excellent

    the beginning is a little slow and difficult to get into, but continuing on is a thrill. the story picks up quite nicely and takes some exciting, unexpected turns. I for one could not put the book down!

    7 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted November 23, 2008

    Slow to Start but A Great Finish

    I wanted the book to better detail the Dante parts of the crime, but after a slow start, it got much better. The ending was great and it was at the Third Canticle where I just couldn't put the book down.

    6 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 23, 2009

    One of the worst books I've ever read...

    ...and I've read a lot of books. I truly despised the book. I, too, picked it up because of the Dan Brown recommendation, since I was looking for some historical fiction similar to the Da Vinci Code. However, this is as about as far from the Da Vinci Code that one can get. It is dull and pretentious. And the writing is truly terrible. One Good writing should go unnoticed, but I stopped reading mid-sentence many times to gawk at Pearl's style. It is as if the writer is trying to use as many five-dollar words as possible, just to prove he can. The plot is slow and unengaging. Just thinking of this book makes me shudder. I think I'll wait for Dan Brown's Solomon Key to come out instead of attempting to scout out any more good historical fiction.

    5 out of 10 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted December 14, 2008

    Too slow...

    I've tried 2x now to get into this book and I just can't seem to stick with it. It's just soooo slow in the beginning and hard to get into the plot. I might give it another try later as it sounds like it's pretty good once you get into it but jeez it's tough to get there!

    4 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 20, 2007

    mind boggling

    This was an amazing edge of your seat thriller. The beginning is a bit slow and confusing, but it picks up with great speed! Pearl is brilliant. If you loved The DaVinci Code, you will most definitely fall in love with The Dante Club.

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 21, 2009

    Pearl brings Dante and Longfellow back to life

    When I originialy bought this book I thought it was going to be a standard mystery book that takes place in the 1800s. It wasn't what I was expecting, but I was greatly satisfied with it. As someone who had a vague idea of Dante and his Inferno, I was still able to follow and enjoy this book. If fact, I now want to read Longfellow's translation of Dante. I can definitely see this as a great book for Book Clubs, although, it is a great book to read individually as well.
    I even enjoyed the introduction, it makes for a great mystery starter.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 24, 2009

    I Also Recommend:

    Good Book

    I liked the book and found its plot engaging and characters believable. It starts a bit slowly but eventually moves along to a thrilling conclusion. This book is an entertaining and intelligent narrative that is a must read.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 8, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    A stunning first novel from a writer destined to become a household name

    Mattew Pearl's recent novel, the Dante Club, combines history, suspense, and mystery in a truly unique reading experience. Famous, well known characters such as Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Dr. Oliver Windell-Holmes and James Russell Lowe are intricately woven into a plot which develops around their translation of Dante's Divine Comedy. Their work is disrupted however, when a series of murders in Boston are modeled after mankind's punishment in hell as described in Dante's Inferno. The murder of prominent citizens modeled after their translation make them suspect.<BR/><BR/>The "Dante Club" refers to the group assembled by Longfellow - including Holmes and Lowell - to assist him in the first American translation of Dante's "Devine Comedy". As people in high places - a judge, a minister, a wealthy merchant - turn up tortured and murdered in scenes recreating those described in Dante's classic, the poets hit the streets of Boston and Cambridge in search of the killer. The result is an exceptionally well-researched book that is rich in historical detail while capturing the post-Civil War American psyche and culture. Pearl's description of the Civil War horrors and post-war trauma is especially gripping. The murders are brutally and vividly portrayed, as the victims are variously eaten-alive by maggots, buried upside-down and set on fire, and literally cut in half.<BR/><BR/>Despite the graphic butchery, this is a book that must not be rushed, but savored for the intricacy of the plot and the intensity of the prose. It is the rare book that draws the reader to revisit the poetry of Longfellow, US history in the wake of the Civil War, and the mystery of Dante in 19th century America. A stunning first novel from a writer destined to become a household name

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 17, 2008

    What a great way to revisit Dante's Masterpiece!

    I read Dante's Inferno in college with help of a T.A. and found it fascinating! When I tried to read it on my own I was frustrated so when I found The Dante Club, I was thrilled to find a great way to get back into the book with a wonderfully sculpted suspense story included! I will definitely read this book several times over!

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 31, 2007

    Intriguing

    If you want to read about an early form of censorship, dive into the wonderfully vivd language which is The Dante Club. Matthew Pearl has woven several plots together which seemingly unveil the political climate of the time. So get ready for a wonderfully descriptive read.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 24, 2006

    Never really picked up...

    This book sounded promising, as I am a lover of historical fiction. And fiction with lots of detail and descriptions and imagery doesn't bore me, so I cannot attribute my disappointment in this novel to the fact that the detail was almost overwhelming. I feel like this book had so much potential to be great, but that it was simply lacking something to make it shine. Perhaps there wasn't a main focus to the story - a lot of subplots abounded. And honestly, I couldn't finish the last 30 pages of the book for a good two months. I finally forced myself to sit down and read the last couple chapters, and I was shocked at how horribly everything was wrapped up. 300+ pages of build up, to wrap up the story (and in my opinion, incompletely) in one chapter? I thought, perhaps, the ending would tie everything together nicely, but instead it just left more loose ends. One of my least favorite things when reading a story is coming to the end and feeling dissatisfied with the result, unless the book is part of a series to be continued. And obviously this story is not TBA, so the many questions I was left with did not help form a positive opinion. The negatives just completely outweighed the positives here.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 9, 2006

    I was captivated from start to finish.

    I could not stop reading. Every word, every page transported me back to the time and place. It was one of the most pleasurable reads I've ever had, and I'm nearly sixty! It also got me interested in Longfellow, whose biography I'm now reading.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 15, 2006

    Fabulous!

    This was truly an entertaining read! I haven't picked up a work of fiction in over 5 years, so I was very paticular about what I purchased. As a student of American history and a fan of Dante since childhood, this seemed like a good choice. Although the first few pages begin with an graphic description of a murder, the story (as most mysteries tend to do) draws the reader in and one tends to overlook the gory aspects. I finished the novel in less than a week, craving more. Pearl succeeds in keeping you on the edge of your seat and just when you think you have figured it out or you can't wait to read more, he cuts from the seen. His style keeps the pages turning and the reader entertained. I'm definitely looking forward to more from Pearl and to dusting off my copy of The Divine Comedy.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 24, 2005

    Hard to finish

    Our book club agreed that this book was long, boring, disgusting in parts, and a very disappointing read. The author seems more interested in displaying his technical skills than in keeping the reader interested. Several characters and scenes lead you to believe that more development will come later -- only to disappoint later on when they don't. Towards the end the book becomes more fast-paced and easier to finish, but good luck making it past the first 150 pages.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 23, 2003

    Nice Concept, but He Can't Write!

    This book has a flashy concept but the execution is very weak and uninvolving. All the characters sound alike as they engage in pompous speechifying with each other. The narrative voice is stuffy and off-putting. The plotting and the numerous coincidences are amateurish. Much of the 'action' involves the 3 or 4 lead characters meeting and greeting each other again and again in different locales (kind of like a bad movie where you get to see the characters getting in and out of cars again and again and driving off somewhere). The villians are cartoonish book burners and the author takes you through over 300 pages of deadly dull prose and at the end simply tells you who the murderer is and attempts a very unconvincing explanation of his motivation--since none of this is developed organically in the preceding story line. This is a very overhyped book by a young lawyer who should stick to writing legal briefs. The whole thing reeks of being a huge research project that a non-writer has tried to turn into a novel. Skip it.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted November 25, 2013

    more from this reviewer

    The amazing detail sucked me in from page one. Absolutely loved

    The amazing detail sucked me in from page one. Absolutely loved this book

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 17, 2013

    Slow but good

    It was strange reading a book where the detectives are all poets and not cops or other action type heroes. As other readers mentioned, it was a bit slow moving and there were lots of red herons thrown in the way of the solution. But it was an enjoyable read.

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  • Posted July 7, 2012

    CSI in the 19th Century

    Brilliant from cover to cover.

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  • Posted March 23, 2012

    This is a wonderful book! Travelling the streets in Boston and C

    This is a wonderful book! Travelling the streets in Boston and Cambridge in 1865 was very interesting. But in the company of Longfellow, Holmes, Lowell, Greene and Fields? WOW! I've picked up THE POE SHADOW and can't wait to dive in. Next up THE LAST DICKENS and THE TECHNOLOGISTS. Matthew Pearl is now one of my favorite young writers and I look forward to his future works in fiction and history.

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