Tuesday, January 31, 2012

The Last Dickens, by Matthew Pearl

In his most enthralling novel yet, the critically acclaimed author Matthew Pearl reopens one of literary history’s greatest mysteries. The Last Dickens is a tale filled with the dazzling twists and turns, the unerring period details, and the meticulous research that thrilled readers of the bestsellers The Dante Club and The Poe Shadow.

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.


  1. I really loved this book. I think I first read this book after discovering it in the Strand downtown in New York my favorite book store in the world.
    I thought the look at the publishing industry in the late 19th century was very interesting. Not one of those things that you think about, I kept thinking to myself that this would be interesting to Grant and Alyssa since they have started working in this type of stuff.
    I personally love these type of historical fiction novels and I have a hard time putting them down. As I had read the book once already it is hard for me to say I didn't see certain plot twists coming. One of the most interesting things to me is to try and visualize certain characters and the character of Herman sure can let your imagination run wild.
    All in all I loved the book, easy read that is hard to put down.

  2. I also love this book. I wanted to plug Matthew Pearl's other books as well. I loved the Poe Shadow and The Dante Club. I love this type of historical fiction. I put his newest book on hold at the library- The Technologists. It looks great also.

  3. I just finished The Last Dickens on the train ride home tonight. It took me a little while to get into, as it kept jumping around from India to 1870 to 1867 without a clear connection to where it was all going. I had a similar disjointed feeling reading the first Sherlock Holmes novel (A Study in Scarlet) when it jumped to Utah from London.
    I enjoyed the depiction of the publishing industry in the 1870s (I did not know the history of copyright, for example). I was also intrigued by the treatment of women newly entering the workforce, the arcane rules about divorce, as well as legal opium and its morphine 'cure'.
    I like historical fiction as a great way to learn and retain information about time periods and events in history, but I always wonder how much of it is real and how much is fake, so the Afterward was welcome.
    I felt a bit stupid when Wakefield turned out to be the bad guy, as I should have seen that coming long before I did. I also did not expect him to be Trood, though that was a twist worthy of Dickens.
    The climax was actually very well done, as I could imagine the scenes vividly -- especially the part where Wakefield forces Herman to dance with him -- it would make a good movie.
    All in all, an enjoyable read. I will have to check out his others.

  4. I had very similar thoughts to Jason on this book. Most of the book was very descriptive and visual- lending itself to be a pretty cool movie.
    I loved Rebecca's character and it was interesting to hear how divorce, single women and working women were addressed and the rules involved.
    Overall I had a really hard time getting into this book (I think I re-read the same page four nights in a row!), but once I got about half way through, I was hooked. I'm interested now in reading some real Dickens work.