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The Last Dickens
     

The Last Dickens

3.4 97
by Matthew Pearl
 

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Boston, 1870. When news of Charles Dickens’s sudden death reaches his struggling American publisher, James Osgood sends his trusted clerk, Daniel Sand, to await the arrival of Dickens’s unfinished final manuscript. But Daniel never returns, and when his body is discovered by the docks, Osgood must embark on a quest to find the missing end to the novel and

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Last Dickens 3.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 98 reviews.
carlosmock More than 1 year ago
On June 8, 1880, Charles Dickens suddenly dies. When the news reaches Boston, his American Publisher, Boston's Fields and Osgood & Co., is placed in jeopardy. Through them, Dickens had published six installments of his latest novel: The Mystery of Edwin Drood. With the novel unfinished, the struggling Boston publishing company is in jeopardy of being taken over by the New York Publisher Harper and Brother. Mr. James Ripley Osgood, and Miss Rebecca Sands are sent to England to look for clues to see if they can find any leads as to how Dickens was planning to finish the novel. Miss Sand's brother, Daniel, was killed as he was sent to the harbor to receive the last installment of the novel. Danger and intrigue abound throughout the journey. As they attempt to uncover real life mysteries hidden by the unfinished novel, Osgood and Rebecca find themselves fighting a dangerous web of publishing houses thugs, drug dealers (opium was legal in those days). They soon realize that solving the puzzle is a matter of life and death, and the key to stopping a murderous mastermind. This is in essence the plot. However, after a brilliant debut with The Dante Club, Mr. Pearl's first novel, he has followed with two disasters. The Poe Shadow, and now The Last Dickens. The problem with Dickens is first of all that Mr, Pearl has chosen a universal point of view to tell us his story. Few writers can get away with that, and Mr. Pearl is not one of them. Within chapters you get lost trying to figure out who's talking. The second problem with the book, and related to the first is the incredible number of characters. At one point i had to stop and start writing who was who. Not only that, but in the middle of a chapter Mr. Pearl decides to update us on something that happened way back. There are changes of scene (from India, to America to England) and flashbacks that come and go and create such a tangle that he had lost me by the second "installment". Finally, the tedious detail and research are quite boring. By the last installment when we FINALLY untangle and discover the truth--i felt like: who cares. This could have been a great novel if Mr. Pearl had chosen a better editor. The plot is quite good, but it was extremely poorly delivered.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Pearl's latest work plods along. Over a hundred pages of it could've been edited out and you would have missed nothing. If it is a real intriquing book you're looking for, this isn't it. Since the Dante Club his following novels read sometimes as if they are gasping for air.
TiBookChatter More than 1 year ago
The Short of It: A literary adventure of the most enjoyable kind. The Last Dickens is a historical literary thriller that includes a good dose of mystery, lots of bookish references and a smattering of romance all rolled into one. The Rest of It: The Last Dickens is a fictionalization that focuses on the unfinished novel, The Mystery of Edwin Drood. Although the novel started out a tad slow for me, it didn't take long for me to get into the story or its characters. As I was reading, I found myself thinking about silent films from the early 1900's. Why, you ask? Well, the villains in those films were these creepy, shadowy apparitions that appeared out of nowhere. There is much of that in this novel as well. Additionally, the lure of the opium dens and their smoky interiors add to the mysterious air of the novel. Films from that era had to rely on setting and the setting that Pearl paints, draws the reader in. However, what I really enjoyed were the passages about Dickens himself. Pearl does an excellent job of making Dickens an accessible, compassionate human being. The eccentricities of the author shine through, yet he is a bit softer around the edges...more likable I guess. Earlier in the year I read Drood by Dan Simmons. In that novel, the sections that dealt with Dickens and his American tour seemed a tad tedious to get through. I didn't find that to be the case with The Last Dickens. Pearl takes the time to focus on Dickens as a man, and not just his readings alone. I felt that this alone helped the reader understand how much this man was loved by his readers. Another item of importance is that it is not necessary for you to have read any of Dickens's work. Doing so certainly adds to the experience but The Last Dickens does not require it of the reader. Overall, this reading adventure was well worth the trip and I look forward to reading Pearl's other works.
CathyB More than 1 year ago
"The Last Dickens", the latest novel by Matthew Pearl, focuses on Charles Dickens's final, unfinished novel, "The Mystery of Edwin Drood". With the death of Mr. Dickens, what will become of his final manuscript? Is it really unfinished? If yes, did Dickens leave behind any clues as to how the novel would end? If no, where are the remaining pages? These are a few of the questions that arise at the start of the novel. When James Osgood, Dickens' American publisher, fails to obtain the first installment of Drood, he travels to London to see if these questions can be answered. This sounds like a simple task; however, I don't believe that simple is a word in Mr. Pearl's vocabulary. He creates an air of mystery surrounding these missing pages. Peppered with actual events, thievery, drugs and murder, the novel takes the reader on a journey of speculation - one plausible scenario regarding the fate of Drood - if curious, you must read for yourself. The story was broken down into three distinct story lines. Two of which complimented one another: Dickens's first American tour and the aftermath of Dickens's death. The third revolved around the life of Dickens' son in India. I enjoyed the plot and the writing; however, the obscure connection of this last story line to the rest of the novel, left me wanting. ----- I recommend to those who have read other works by Matthew Pearl and/or those who enjoy historical fiction, Dickens or the publishing world. I also recommend to those of you who have not read Matthew Pearl. ----- Other novels by Matthew Pearl: "The Dante Club", "Poe's Shadow". My favorite was "The Dante Club".
dragonzwisard More than 1 year ago
Masterful, creative, inventive, exciting, part ficiton & part fact, riveting ~~~ all these make "The Last Dickens" a superb novel. Mr Pearl has taken an original mystery (Charles Dickens last novel) & crafted a riveting who-dunnit by thoroughly researching Mr Dickens & London society in the 1870s. An excellent "read" for anyone on a rainy afternoon who is enjoys historical ficiton or a good mystery.
animalrights03 More than 1 year ago
When I picked up this book and read the back cover, I thought it sounded like the perfect adventure book, full of romance, mystery, intrigue, and excitement and it was all that eventually. The book is 387 pages long and it didn't get excititng until about 300. Oh sure there were some parts that made you wonder what would happen next, but they were quickly resolved. And as for the romance, don't buy this book if you are expecting a tale of exciting passion and love. Overall it was an okay read, but the back cover alone was almost more excting than the whole thing.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I'm an avid reader and rarely does it happen that I cannot finish a book, but this one is getting to be a challenge. The plot is simply too plodding. Sure, I'll finish it. It's not in my nature to quit, but chances are I'll read a few other novels in between. I do like the original idea of this story and some of the interesting tidbits presented about Dicken's life has made me want to pick up a non-fiction biography on the man. For this reason alone, I am giving the story three stars. If you are into Dickensian novels, a better choice is "Mr. Timothy, by Louis Bayard.
2manybooks2littletime More than 1 year ago
This book is everything I have come to expect from Matthew Pearl. Publishers Weekly was way off base saying that it "fell short" of the standards set by Simmon's "Drood." I could barely get through "Drood" and wished I hadn't tried when I finished it.....this book I can't turn the pages fast enough. It is filled with good solid characters and a story that does not drag on in the least bit. Very suspenseful and entertaining.
bookworm52 More than 1 year ago
I have read The Dante Club, The Technologists and The Last Dickens and find them to be in the same historical mystery genre as The Alienist by Caleb Carr. Pearl's books bring history back to life and reignite the fascination with the history of America that I had as a teenager. While this is my least favorite of the three that I have read, it was still worth the purchase and the reading.
Merns More than 1 year ago
Pearl is really terrific. Great cameos from some of his previous characters. Also, he does a great job of styling his writing in this one to sound Dickensian. Only problem is now I'll have to read Edwin Drood. Probably should have first.
romeo_alpha More than 1 year ago
Another wonderful book from Matthew Pearl. Charles Dickens had written the first 6 installments of THE MYSTERY OF EDWIN DROOD. Readers followed the story as each installment was printed in newspapers. The untimely death of Mr. Dickens shocked the literary world, broke the hearts of readers and sent his publishers back on their heels. Did Mr. Dickens finish the story? If so who has the manuscript? Was Edwin Drood murdered or is he still alive? What about Charles Dickens family? One hundred and forty years later Matthew Pearl takes us into the mystery surrounded by a mystery and wraps them with his mystery! All the characters, both real and ficticious, would put a smile on Mr. Dickens face. Mr. Pearl puts a smile on mine.
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Alejandro Guitron More than 1 year ago
I enjoyed learning more about the man behimd the masterpieces. Very good
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