The Dead Gentleman

The Dead Gentleman

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by Matthew Cody

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A many-worlds adventure novel from the acclaimed author of Powerless!
The Dead Gentleman is a wild ride between parallel New York City timestreams—1901 and today. Eleven-year-old Tommy Learner is a street orphan and an unlikely protégé of the Explorers, a secret group dedicated to exploring portals—the


A many-worlds adventure novel from the acclaimed author of Powerless!
The Dead Gentleman is a wild ride between parallel New York City timestreams—1901 and today. Eleven-year-old Tommy Learner is a street orphan and an unlikely protégé of the Explorers, a secret group dedicated to exploring portals—the hidden doorways to other worlds. But in the basement of an old hotel, his world collides with that of modern-day Jezebel Lemon.

Now, Jezebel and Tommy must thwart the Dead Gentleman, a legendary villain whose last unconquered world is our own planet Earth, a realm where the dead stay dead—for now. Can two kids put an end to this ancient evil and his legions of Grave Walkers?

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Expertly imagined and endlessly inventive, Matthew Cody's The Dead Gentleman is a time-tripping adventure readers won't soon forget." —Ransom Riggs, NYT bestselling author of MISS PEREGRINE'S HOME FOR PECULIAR CHILDREN

"Attention thieves, scoundrels, and fearless adventurers! This book is for you. From the underground lairs of monsters and trolls to the underwater ruins of ancient civilizations, The Dead Gentleman will take you everywhere you ever wanted to go—and more than a few places you never imagined. Read it now. Read it fast. Before some well-meaning person snatches it away." —Pseudonymous Bosch

Children's Literature - Cynthia Levinson
The main character in this time-travel, steampunk novel, eleven-year-old Tommy Learner, tells the stories of his adventures, in the first person, in alternating chapters with his co-star, Jezebel Lemon, whose actions take place in the 21st century and are described in the third person. This conceit makes for a complex and demanding reading experience, made all the more so by the story itself and by the fact that the two characters and their storylines don't intersect until Chapter 7. Tommy is a street urchin in New York City in 1900. To eat, he steals and one day lifts a magical metal canary, named Merlin, from a man who looks like a corpse—the Dead Gentleman of the title—who engages in body-swapping, universe-domination, and promoting Gravewalkers. Monsters chase Tommy, who is saved by the Explorers' Society, a group that explores portals to other worlds, but the living corpse attacks them. While investigating a man-eating spider, Tommy becomes trapped until Jezebel finds his ghost in the basement of her apartment building. They then discover secret doorways to alternate times, ape-like monsters, and zombie dinosaurs, among other frightening curiosities. The two protagonists realize that they must work together to save themselves and the world. Once these courageous and clever characters get underway, patient readers will come to appreciate the complex set-up and will be riveted by their adventures, some of which might be truly but deliciously scary. Reviewer: Cynthia Levinson
School Library Journal
Gr 5–9—This complex, time-bending tale is told in alternating chapters. Tommy Learner tells about his adventures, which begin in New York in 1900, where he is a street child who supports himself by stealing. When he takes a magical metal bird from a man with the face of a corpse, he finds himself pursued by monsters and rescued by the Explorers' Society, a group that traverses magical worlds by traveling through time and space. After the living corpse, the Dead Gentleman of the title, attacks the Explorers, Tommy finds himself trapped and alone. Jezebel Lemon's chapters are told in third person. She is a contemporary girl who encounters Tommy's ghost in the basement of her apartment building and soon becomes aware of the many monsters and magical creatures that surround her otherwise-ordinary life. Tommy and Jez meet and realize that they must work together to save themselves, Merlin the magical bird, and Earth itself from the villain's schemes. Truly creepy monsters and nightmare figures, from the body-swapping Dead Gentleman to his vampire first lieutenant to a zombie dinosaur, bring a gripping sense of danger to the story, and real questions about the consequences of changing time add substance to the rapid action. Readers will be drawn into this story and challenged to follow its characters as they jump through time and fight to save us all.—Beth L. Meister, Milwaukee Jewish Day School, WI

Product Details

Random House Children's Books
Publication date:
Edition description:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
5.10(w) x 7.60(h) x 0.90(d)
860L (what's this?)
Age Range:
10 Years

Read an Excerpt

The Dead Gentleman

By Matthew Cody

Knopf Books for Young Readers

Copyright © 2011 Matthew Cody
All right reserved.

ISBN: 9780375855962



New York City, Today

At first glance, the Percy Luxury was a sleek apartment building full of marble floors and shining brass handles. A neatly dressed doorman always waited outside to wave down taxis and tip his hat at passersby, and the smiling elevator man with too-white teeth never had to be reminded which floor was yours. But the marble and the brass were not the originals, and neither were the doorman and the elevator man for that matter--they were all part of a new renovation aimed at transforming the place into a stylish home for the very rich and the very snotty. “New” Percy had been “gentrified”--a word that, in Jezebel’s vernacular, meant it was now a good place to own a poodle or some other small, yappy dog that you could stuff into your purse.

Jezebel’s Percy was full of peepholes and cracked-open doors. No one said much of anything, she noticed, and each neighbor made a point of seeming totally uninterested as they passed her in the halls--head down, busy examining the mail, no time for a “hello” or “good morning” or even “hiya” when you’re staring at your watch. But as soon as they made it inside their apartments, you could hear the click-clack of peephole shutters sliding and the creak of doors inching open. Walking down the hallway meant you were being watched, and if you were being watched, then it only made sense that you were being talked about.


According to Jez’s dad it had been a hotel long ago. Its status as an Upper West Side landmark was the only thing that saved it from being torn down when the coffee shops and pay-by-the-hour playrooms started moving into the neighborhood. But the renovations had also exposed part of the real Percy--sections of the old building that remained untouched by double-glazed windows and new crown molding. Underneath the new clothing was a set of very old bones.

On this particular Saturday it was not yet noon, though you wouldn’t have known it to look at the sky outside. A thick pallet of black clouds lay over the city like a winter blanket. Sidewalk trees--skinny little saplings planted as part of the gentrification--swayed then snapped in the gusting winds. Jezebel watched out her bedroom window as the storm pummeled the city and churned the waters of the Hudson River beyond. She imagined the tall trees in Riverside Park whipping their branches against the blowing rain, cutting through the sheets of water. The park trees were old and strong, and they would do better in this gale than those poor saplings below.

Jezebel’s bedroom window rattled as a thunderclap chased a lightning flash through the sky. That one had seemed too close. She backed away from the window and plopped down heavily onto her bed. Even an epic thunderstorm like this could hold her attention for only so long. She rolled around, sat up and grabbed one of her dad’s books that she had started at least ten times. She read for a few minutes before giving up at the same spot she always gave up at, and then laid back down and stared at the unfinished mural her father had started on her bedroom wall. It was a scene from an enchanted forest full of lush green trees, toadstools and fairies. She stared at the open white space he’d taped off that was just begging for a unicorn.

Her dad had to be stopped.

Of course, he meant well--parents usually do. These little gestures reassured him that he was an involved and present father. Jezebel’s mom liked to say that fatherhood had hit him like a knockout punch and he’d been reeling ever since. But he’d done what was expected of him, and then some. He’d made sacrifices--trading a painter’s career for a job in advertising, for one thing, which was why Jezebel let him have his way with the enchanted-forest mural.

Parents. Her mother feared for her--she worried about the “emotional fallout” left from the divorce. Her father overcompensated by filling their weekends with quality time, but she had survived so far without any deep mental scars, so he must’ve done something right. She thought that he should accept some culpability for the twelve-year-old baby fat that was turning out not to be baby fat at all, and for her nearsightedness and tendency to freckle. In fact, she had a whole list of genetic complaints, but the actual child-rearing part he’d pulled off quite well. She’d told him that once, in those very words, and he’d kind of looked grim and defeated about it. Maybe he just didn’t know how to take a compliment.

Jezebel tried once more to go online, but the storm had been messing with the Internet all morning and she waited five minutes just for her profile page to load. Cell phone reception was spotty as well. It was like living in the Stone Age. After the connection timed out twice, she gave up and grabbed her shoes instead.

Time to check out the basement.


Excerpted from The Dead Gentleman by Matthew Cody Copyright © 2011 by Matthew Cody. Excerpted by permission of Knopf Books for Young Readers, a division of Random House, Inc.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Meet the Author

MATTHEW CODY divides his time between writing and teaching college English in New York City. Powerless, his first novel, is available from Knopf.

Originally from the midwest, Matthew lives with his wife and young son in Manhattan.  You can visit him on the Web at

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The Dead Gentleman 2.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 3 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Very interseting.
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