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The Last Dickens by [Pearl, Matthew]
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The Last Dickens Kindle Edition

3.0 out of 5 stars 21 customer reviews

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Length: 466 pages Word Wise: Enabled Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
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Product Description

Review

"Matthew Pearl's The Last Dickens is a tour-de-force. India in the time of the Raj, the opium dens of London, literary piracy in 1860s Boston, and Charles Dickens himself - all come alive in this ingenious, engrossing mystery, which grips the reader from harrowing start to tantalizing finish" (Jed Rubenfeld, author of The Interpretation of Murder)

Review

'Pearl's research is often impressive.'

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 949 KB
  • Print Length: 466 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage Digital (12 Aug. 2011)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B005G37SG0
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars 21 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #132,315 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

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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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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Format: Kindle Edition
I will hold my hand up to two things at the start of this review. Firstly I am drawn to fiction based on other fiction, and secondly I'm not a big Dickens fan. For various reasons I just don't find him an interesting read.

However I can't deny his impact as a novelist at a time when reading as a past time was only just reaching the masses. And so this book looked intriguing.

Primarily set immediately after the death of the famous author, having completed exactly half of the installments of his latest book - The Mystery of Edwin Drood - James Osgood, the junior partner in his American publishers is sent to England to try to track down any other parts of the manuscript.

However dark forces are afoot; there are two murders related to the Dickens papers in short order​ and Osgood is attacked on the ship to England. Clearly someone does not want any more of Drood to be published.

Pearl has taken one of the greatest literary mysteries of all (there really are no clues about how Drood was supposed to conclude) and wrapped it in another fictional conundrum. He has clearly researched all of the details very well and uses real people - including Osgood and Dickens himself- along with fictional characters to tell the story. This gives the plot a certain solidity because so much of it is based in reality, with the fabricated parts showing through the cracks.

The narrative moves between 1870 and Osgood's quest, to India at the same time where Frank Dickens (son of Charles) is investigating drug smuggling and to 1868 when Dickens is performing a reading tour of America.

The plot is more-or-less highly plausible, just some coincidental points that require a little suspension of disbelief.
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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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By Peter Steward TOP 500 REVIEWER on 9 Nov. 2015
Format: Paperback
This one seems to fly all over the place and is hugely disappointing after reading Drood by Dan Simmons.

In many ways the themes are similar but this one is confusing and gets bogged down, apparently heading nowhere fast with a convoluted plot that ultimately peters out into nothing and sub plots that never develop. I would find it difficult to recommend particularly as Dickens has died by the time the action begins, but we keep dipping back into his life.
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