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The Dante Club: Historical Mystery Paperback – 1 Jan 2004


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Product details

  • Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage; 1st paperback dtion edition (1 Jan. 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0099465981
  • ISBN-13: 978-0099465980
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 2.7 x 19.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (42 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 360,146 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

"With intricate plots, classical themes, and erudite characters...what's not to love?" (Dan Brown, author of Inferno and The Da Vinci Code)

"There are some great twists in the plot and the chase is genuinely thrilling...an unusually arresting piece of crime fiction" (Toby Clements Daily Telegraph)

"The momentum of his plot is irresistible...a most inventive page-turner" (Stephanie Merritt Observer)

"Audacious and captivating...truly admirable" (Esquire)

"Ingenious" (New Yorker)

Book Description

A gripping thriller set in Boston, from the writer whose legion of fans include Dan Brown and Jed Rubenfeld

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Customer Reviews

3.2 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

17 of 17 people found the following review helpful By M. B. Alcat on 17 Dec. 2006
Format: Paperback
"The Dante Club", Matthew Pearl's first novel, is the kind of book that manages to combine suspense, history and literature successfully, engaging the reader and making him care about what is going to happen next.

The story takes place in 1865 Boston, where a group of friends that include poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, writer and physician Oliver Wendell Holmes and poet James Russell Lowell, among others, decide to form a Dante Club in order to produce an English translation of Dante's "Divine Comedy". Many people are against this endeavour, as they believe Dante's "Divine Comedy" to be dangerous reading material, but our academics are steadfast in their devotion to Dante. However, they begin to get nervous when a madman that seems to be delivering the punishments Dante Alighieri talks about in his "Inferno" (= "Hell", one of the three books in which the "Divine Comedy" is divided) starts killing people in Boston. Trying to avoid a death blow to Dante's reputation even before the American public can read his translated works, the members of the Dante Club decide to catch the killer by themselves. That is easier said than done, but makes for a very entertaining book.

From my point of view, "The Dante Club" is a perfect choice for Dante's fans, but also for those that just want to buy something interesting to read in their spare time. If you already love Dante, you will enjoy the way in which Matthew Pearl makes the "Divine Comedy" an integral part of this book; if you are new to Dante's works, you will learn about him and his books at the same time you read an original whodunit. In any case, you are highly likely to love "The Dante Club". Of course, recommended!

Belen Alcat
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43 of 45 people found the following review helpful By J. Mcrorie on 14 Mar. 2003
Format: Hardcover
Every once in a while a novel comes along and is simply stunning in every way. The last novel I was this excited about was Donna Tartt's The Secret History, and in my opinion this novel is just as good as. For those of you like me who knew nothing (and I mean nothing) about Dante, this novel offers a fascinating introduction of Dante and his work. Think of the combination, we have Dante, an insightful look into 19th Century history, a setting in smouldering Boston that you can almost smell, a killer on the loose more sadistic than any other indiviudal I have come across in print, a group of unlikely heroes using 19th century detective work, and you have a mix that is simply unbeatable. I simply could not put this book down. I read it waiting for public transport, travelling on public transport, getting off public transport, walking to and from work, and last thing at night. Give it a try, you'll have bitten every fingernail off, by the time you get to the last chapter.
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23 of 25 people found the following review helpful By "mjohnston53" on 27 Jan. 2004
Format: Paperback
This book probably falls into the category of a thriller, but it is oh so much more. It is literate and poetic, but in a dynamic way. There are threads of poetry running from Dante to Longfellow and his friends who are some of the greatest minds of their day.
They are the most unlikely of heroes, but I loved their characters. They may be getting on a bit in years, but they are clever, brave and resourcful in tracking down the fiend who murders his victims using methods of punishment taken from Dante's inferno. These are also people who have a great friendship and affection for each other and you feel part of that circle of friends.
I had many theories as to the identity of the murderer, but I truly didn't guess who it was until the exciting climax of the book.
I did not want the book to end and I have been making up for that by reading poems by Longfellow that I had forgotten that I knew. These include his wonderful translation of the Divine Comedy.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By S. Mohammed on 2 Jan. 2010
Format: Paperback
According to my normal reading habits, a book of this size would normally take me just over a week to get through. This one took just over Four and it was an effort-filled hard slog.

It wasn't that I found the storyline and plot difficult to follow, it was more down to the fact that I just could not engage with the characters and was often confused over who was who. Whilst Matthew Pearl introduces his characters as every author would, It didn't help that the members of 'The Dante Club' all had dark unruly hair and beards (as was befitting of the late 1800's). To add to the confusion, a character would sometimes be referred to by his Surname and First name throughout the story. The switch occurring often and for reasons I could not determine.
I even had trouble picturing the Boston in which the story was set and I would forget that the tale was set in the late 1800's, 'dateless' you could almost say.

The synopsis suggested this was going to be an original literary crime novel and I'm sure for some it was, but I'm afraid for me, the characters let it down. Crime novel it was, but not without serious flaws.
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23 of 27 people found the following review helpful By taking a rest HALL OF FAME on 21 Jan. 2003
Format: Hardcover
If, 'The Dante Club", is an indication of what readers may expect from future works by Mr. Matthew Pearl, a great new novelist has arrived. Mr. Pearl has not just taken a great setting and a great tale, but he has added notable historical figures as well as one of the most noted pieces of literature ever written, and molded them in to a wonderful mystery on the streets of Boston in 1865. He also has not hesitated to take venerable institutions to task, regardless of their presumed august positions when they stoop to hypocrisy or other unsavory acts.
The work of Dante was virtually unknown in this period of Boston's history except by the very few and equally few well educated. It was considered modern, controversial, and an affront to the classics that were taught at institutions like Harvard University. And then there is The Dante club whose members include Oliver Wendell Holmes, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow and James Russell Lowell who are in the process of bringing out the first English translation of Dante's work for American readers. Powerful forces such as Harvard, amongst others, are against it, nevertheless the group proceeds week by week and level by level through the world of Dante as they prepare their publication. The process is closely guarded with their publisher knowing the full contents of their progress and other confidants having only the knowledge that their work proceeds.
But prior to publication meticulous Dantean murders occur, but knowledge of the translation is not well known, it is not even complete, and yet the murders are carried out with an exactitude that only a scholar of Dante's work would have access to. And just as Dante fits his punishments to a crime of specificity, this murderer too follows the famous work in the most exacting detail.
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