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The Last Dickens Paperback – 7 Jan 2010


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Product details

  • Paperback: 464 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage (7 Jan 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0099512750
  • ISBN-13: 978-0099512752
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 2.5 x 19.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 2.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 560,551 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

"A plot packed full of incident, coincidences, devious twists and dramatic set pieces" (Daily Mail)

"A Dickens of a mystery" (New York Daily News)

"An immensely gifted author" (Dan Brown)

"Matthew Pearl's The Last Dickens is a tour-de-force . . . which grips the reader from harrowing start to tantalizing finish" (Jed Rubenfeld, author of The Interpretation of Murder)

"An illuminating peep into a vanished world" (James Urquhart Financial Times)

Book Description

'Matthew Pearl is the new shining star of literary fiction - an immensely gifted author' - Dan Brown

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Customer Reviews

2.9 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Helen S VINE VOICE on 16 Oct 2011
Format: Paperback
The Last Dickens is a literary mystery involving a search for the missing manuscript of the final, unfinished Charles Dickens novel, The Mystery of Edwin Drood. This book didn't appeal to me when it was published a couple of years ago because at that time I had only read one Charles Dickens book and didn't have much interest in reading a historical fiction novel about him. Since then, though, I've read a few more of Dickens' books (including Edwin Drood) and so I thought I would give The Last Dickens a try now.

In 1870, the new Dickens novel, The Mystery of Edwin Drood, is being serialised by his American publisher Field, Osgood & Company, who are based in Boston. When Field and Osgood send their young office clerk, Daniel Sand, to the docks to collect the latest instalment which has been sent from England, Daniel is later found dead under suspicious circumstances. With the shocking news that Dickens has also died and left his novel incomplete, James R Osgood travels to England in search of clues as to how the story may have been going to end. Osgood is accompanied by Daniel Sand's sister, Rebecca, another employee of the publishing house. Can they uncover the truth about Daniel's death and at the same time find the remaining chapters of The Mystery of Edwin Drood?

Just when Osgood and Rebecca's adventures start to get exciting, the story is interrupted with a very long flashback to Dickens's American tour several years earlier. Some of this was interesting (it's such a shame there was no recording equipment in those days as it would have been fascinating to have been able to hear Dickens reading his books on stage to an audience!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Josey Wales on 10 Feb 2012
Format: Paperback
After the success of the well written and absorbing Dante Club, I found this a terrible disappointment. The flow was disjointed and boring, as though the author was storing up his mild surprises for crucial points of the book; except, they were not that interesting. A one trick pony relying on an earlier success which was much better plotted and executed. The best way to describe the books progress was like tuning into a long running soap, where you keep watching but it seems to go on forever.
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful By G. D. Busby on 25 Jan 2010
Format: Paperback
Having really liked The Dante Club, somehow, I missed out on Matthew Pearl's second novel (The Poe Shadow) and gone straight on to The Last Dickens. Boston, Massachusetts, which I know reasonably well features yet again in what is an exploration of what might have happened around the creation of Edwin Drood (Charles Dickens' last novel). Knowing a location or two really helps but, for me, Boston did not come alive so much as it did in The Dante Club (interesting to see who is acknowledged in the creativity process, by Matthew Pearl).

On the other hand, some aspects of locale creation in England were quite good (more could have been made of the London underworld and sewers! For example, see Clare Clark's The Great Stink. The evocation of Gadshill Place was interesting and made this reviewer want to go to Rochester again to look at the property. Overall, it's a well-written novel, just not as good as The Dante Club.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By miss_spookiness on 11 Oct 2010
Format: Paperback
This book is set mainly in America in the 1860s and 70s, swapping between the time when Charles Dickens was doing a speaking tour of some American cities, and after his death in Rochester in London. It also concerns his last novel, The Mystery of Edwin Drood, which was unfinished when he died. The main character is Osgood, one of his publishers in America. During the speaking tour there is a strange woman who appears to be stalking Dickens, and when Charles Dickens dies it appears she has something to do with the end of the novel, which a lot of people think Dickens has hidden somewhere. There is also another bit which is set in India, which I didn't really get, but I think it was to do with the opium trade, which is a main part of Edwin Drood. I won't tell you what happens at the end...but really the book could have been so much better! It got a bit confusing, and there were a few characters which I wasn't sure what they were doing there. This could have been a great book, but it was a bit..cluttered. I have read another book by Matthew Pearl, The Dante Club, which at the time I really liked, so I think I would read more by him, but not too sure about this book.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Mr Steven Roberts on 25 July 2010
Format: Paperback
Another excellent blend of historical fact with suspensful fiction from Matthew Pearl. As he did with the Dante Club, Pearl cleverly intertwines a complex and compelling narrative to bring interest, intrigue and new life to such a well known figure as Charles Dickens and, in this instance, his last, but unfinished, work. The characterisations are well rendered and believable. Previous knowledge of the preceeding Dante Club adds to the depth and history of some such, importantly though, the lack of such knowledge does not detract from the enjoyment of the story. All in all a very enjoyable, thriller, that steadily gathers pace and complexity, keeping the reader engaged until the last. Well recommended.
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By J. Shaw on 28 Jun 2012
Format: Paperback
Well, I'm not sure where all these thrills are that other readers have experienced. I've found this a turgid novel that is harder work than it actually warrants. Seventy pages from the end and there's no sense of suspense being built, or characters developed. Think I'm going to give up!
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