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Drood Paperback – February 8, 2010

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. Bestseller Simmons (The Terror) brilliantly imagines a terrifying sequence of events as the inspiration for Dickens's last, uncompleted novel, The Mystery of Edwin Drood, in this unsettling and complex thriller. In the course of narrowly escaping death in an 1865 train wreck and trying to rescue fellow passengers, Dickens encounters a ghoulish figure named Drood, who had apparently been traveling in a coffin. Along with his real-life novelist friend Wilkie Collins, who narrates the tale, Dickens pursues the elusive Drood, an effort that leads the pair to a nightmarish world beneath London's streets. Collins begins to wonder whether the object of their quest, if indeed the man exists, is merely a cover for his colleague's own murderous inclinations. Despite the book's length, readers will race through the pages, drawn by the intricate plot and the proliferation of intriguing psychological puzzles, which will remind many of the work of Charles Palliser and Michael Cox. 4-city author tour. (Feb.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From The New Yorker

In this creepy intertextual tale of professional jealousy and possible madness, Wilkie Collins tells of his friendship and rivalry with Charles Dickens, and of the mysterious phantasm named Edwin Drood, who pursues them both. Drood, cadaverous and pale, first appears at the scene of a railway accident in which Dickens was one of the few survivors; later, Dickens and Collins descend into London�s sewer in search of his lair. Meanwhile, a retired police detective warns Collins that Drood is responsible for more than three hundred murders, and that he will destroy Dickens in his quest for immortality. Collins is peevish, vain, and cruel, and the most unreliable of narrators: an opium addict, prone to nightmarish visions. The narrative is overlong, with discarded subplots and red herrings, but Simmons, a master of otherworldly suspense, cleverly explores envy�s corrosive effects.
Copyright ©2008 Click here to subscribe to The New Yorker --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 800 pages
  • Publisher: Back Bay Books; Reprint edition (February 8, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 9780316007030
  • ISBN-13: 978-0316007030
  • ASIN: 031600703X
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 1.5 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.5 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (292 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #772,428 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Dan Simmons was born in Peoria, Illinois, in 1948, and grew up in various cities and small towns in the Midwest, including Brimfield, Illinois, which was the source of his fictional "Elm Haven" in 1991's SUMMER OF NIGHT and 2002's A WINTER HAUNTING. Dan received a B.A. in English from Wabash College in 1970, winning a national Phi Beta Kappa Award during his senior year for excellence in fiction, journalism and art.
Dan received his Masters in Education from Washington University in St. Louis in 1971. He then worked in elementary education for 18 years -- 2 years in Missouri, 2 years in Buffalo, New York -- one year as a specially trained BOCES "resource teacher" and another as a sixth-grade teacher -- and 14 years in Colorado.

His last four years in teaching were spent creating, coordinating, and teaching in APEX, an extensive gifted/talented program serving 19 elementary schools and some 15,000 potential students. During his years of teaching, he won awards from the Colorado Education Association and was a finalist for the Colorado Teacher of the Year. He also worked as a national language-arts consultant, sharing his own "Writing Well" curriculum which he had created for his own classroom. Eleven and twelve-year-old students in Simmons' regular 6th-grade class averaged junior-year in high school writing ability according to annual standardized and holistic writing assessments. Whenever someone says "writing can't be taught," Dan begs to differ and has the track record to prove it. Since becoming a full-time writer, Dan likes to visit college writing classes, has taught in New Hampshire's Odyssey writing program for adults, and is considering hosting his own Windwalker Writers' Workshop.
Dan's first published story appeared on Feb. 15, 1982, the day his daughter, Jane Kathryn, was born. He's always attributed that coincidence to "helping in keeping things in perspective when it comes to the relative importance of writing and life."
Dan has been a full-time writer since 1987 and lives along the Front Range of Colorado -- in the same town where he taught for 14 years -- with his wife, Karen. He sometimes writes at Windwalker -- their mountain property and cabin at 8,400 feet of altitude at the base of the Continental Divide, just south of Rocky Mountain National Park. An 8-ft.-tall sculpture of the Shrike -- a thorned and frightening character from the four Hyperion/Endymion novels -- was sculpted by an ex-student and friend, Clee Richeson, and the sculpture now stands guard near the isolated cabin.
Dan is one of the few novelists whose work spans the genres of fantasy, science fiction, horror, suspense, historical fiction, noir crime fiction, and mainstream literary fiction . His books are published in 27 foreign counties as well as the U.S. and Canada.
Many of Dan's books and stories have been optioned for film, including SONG OF KALI, DROOD, THE CROOK FACTORY, and others. Some, such as the four HYPERION novels and single Hyperion-universe novella "Orphans of the Helix", and CARRION COMFORT have been purchased (the Hyperion books by Warner Brothers and Graham King Films, CARRION COMFORT by European filmmaker Casta Gavras's company) and are in pre-production. Director Scott Derrickson ("The Day the Earth Stood Stood Still") has been announced as the director for the Hyperion movie and Casta Gavras's son has been put at the helm of the French production of Carrion Comfort. Current discussions for other possible options include THE TERROR. Dan's hardboiled Joe Kurtz novels are currently being looked as the basis for a possible cable TV series.
In 1995, Dan's alma mater, Wabash College, awarded him an honorary doctorate for his contributions in education and writing.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

142 of 158 people found the following review helpful By Ellis Bell VINE VOICE on January 31, 2009
Format: Hardcover
At nearly 800 pages, Drood is literally a doorstopper of a book. Set in 1865 through 1870, the story centers around Charles Dickens, beginning with his train accident at Staplehurst on the ninth of June. On that very day, as Dickens rushes to assist the dead and dying, he meets a mysterious, and quite creepy, man named Drood. Dickens's story is narrated by Wilkie Collins, both friend and competitor, as Drood plays a kind of cat-and-mouse game with the two authors, in the dangerous underbelly of London.

I had a really, really hard time putting this book down. It's just my kind of novel: lots of adventure, lots of tension. The narrator has a tendency to wander a bit, going off on tangents when he should be following the story, but I didn't see the extra information (and there's a lot of it thrown in) as detracting from it. Rather, I liked all the biographical notes on both Dickens and Collins, and I liked the interactions they had with one another, and the creative give-and-take of information that lead to novels like The Moonstone and The Mystery of Edwin Drood. Although Collins talks mostly about Dickens (sometimes with jealousy) and his demons, Collins finds that he has a few demons of his own to vanquish.

The biggest problem I had with this book was the ending. Honestly, I felt a bit cheated: the ending of the book was very anticlimactic, disappointing after all that wonderful buildup. And there are some parts of Chapter 25 that sound as though Simmons ripped them right from the movie The Mummy.

But for the most part, I enjoyed this novel. It contained great characters (though both Dickens and Collins could be infuriating at times), and great suspense.
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312 of 362 people found the following review helpful By Bornintime VINE VOICE on March 4, 2009
Format: Hardcover
I have been a fan of Dan Simmons work for over 20 years and this is the 25th book that I have read by him. I almost always enjoy his work. That being said I have never been so surprised by all the 5-star reviews for a book as I am with this one. If you read the jacket blurb on Dan Simmons' latest novel you would think that this book was about a mysterious underworld character named Drood, who Charles Dickens obsessed over in the last 5 years of his life. Or you may think that the book is centered on Dickens himself. Both of these sound interesting but unfortunately this book is about neither.

It is about, and narrated by, one Wilkie Collins, Charles Dickens' friend, collaborator and competitor. This is more of a personal diary than an actual story. When you read this you will want Wilkie to get to the point on Dickens and Drood but what you will get get for most of the book is Wilkie's ramblings about every aspect of his personal life. You will get detailed self-absorbed descriptions about his writing, his 2 relationships with women, his theater work, his dining habits, his relationship with his mother, his appearance, which one of his various places he will sleep on a given night, his increasing dependence on opium, and lengthy descriptions of his domestic situations. Over 771 pages he will spare you no detail. Simmons is a good writer so some of these are interesting or humorous but nowhere close to entertain us over almost 800 pages. Yes, there is a story in here about Dickens and Drood (sort of) but maybe this covers one third of the book. To say that half or more of this book should have been lopped off by a good editor is in no way an exaggeration.
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20 of 22 people found the following review helpful By Librum VINE VOICE on December 10, 2010
Format: Paperback
...and ended so poorly. The opening chapters of Drood had me completely hooked. "Can't wait to read all of DS' novels," I thought. "Man, this guy can write." Well, turns out DS has Dickensian ambitions but talents for story-craft that fall far short of the Dickensian. To whit: Drood is long. Endlessly endlessly long. And far from the fascinating exploration of the human psyche -- healthy or addled, murderous or mild -- that some critics claim, it is the banalest of explorations, chicken scratches on the surface of what might (and at 800 pages(!) should) have been a psychologically penetrating narrative. Another DS pretension: that he is master of the unexpected. The 'twist' in this novel comes about 30 pages before the novel wraps. Let me just say: seriously? That's your idea of a zinger, DS? No spoilers here; if you've read this far and decide to slog through Drood anyway, far be it from me to chip away at what little reading pleasure you're likely take from the experience. Who knows, perhaps your own readerly sympathies will align with those of the Publisher's Weekly critic who gave Drood a "starred" review, or the New Yorker critic who crows that DS is "a master of otherworldly suspense" who "cleverly explores envy's corrosive effects." My theory: both critics wrote their reviews under the corrosive influence of laudanum and the mesmeric arts.

My second star is for DS' occasional flashes of writerly brilliance. When this guy writes well, he really really writes well. 50 pages' worth of Drood was the stuff of a 5-star novel for sure. Would that Dickens or Collins had risen from the grave to rewrite the remaining 700...
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