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The Last Dickens: A Novel Audio CD – Audiobook, Unabridged

3.6 out of 5 stars 71 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Bestseller Pearl (The Poe Shadow) delivers a period thriller that has the misfortune to fall short of the high standard set by Dan Simmons's Drood (Reviews, Nov. 24), which also centers on Charles Dickens's final, unfinished novel, The Mystery of Edwin Drood. After the author dies in 1870, a series of suspicious deaths leads Dickens's U.S. publisher, James Osgood, to suspect they may be connected with the solution to the novel's puzzle. Accompanied by attractive bookkeeper Rebecca Sand, the sister of one of the victims, Osgood travels from Boston to England to seek clues to Drood's missing conclusion. The action shifts to India, where Charles's son Francis is a superintendent of the Bengal Mounted Police, and back in time, to the novelist's last American tour in 1867. Some awkward prose distracts ("There were several other grim faces at dinner that, like some imperceptible force, spread a dark cloud over the levity"), while the ending may strike some readers as a cop-out. (Mar.)
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 Bookmarks Magazine

Many critics compared Pearl’s latest effort to Dan Simmons’s recent, lengthy SF novel Drood (HHHJ May/June 2009)—though they are far different beasts. A historical literary mystery filled with real-life figures, The Last Dickens showcases Pearl’s impressive research into the Victorian era—from opium wars in India to publishing house culture. The novel also entertains, with surprising twists that quickly turn sinister. Yet American critics faulted the tangential (and coincidental) subplots, while British reviewers questioned Pearl’s grasp on their culture. For readers interested in Dickens or who want an engaging mystery, however, The Last Dickens is “a fitting testament to the thrall in which many of us are still held by the world of the great Victorian novelists” (Christian Science Monitor).
Copyright 2009 Bookmarks Publishing LLC --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Product Details

  • Audio CD
  • Publisher: Random House Audio; Unabridged edition (March 17, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0739344285
  • ISBN-13: 978-0739344286
  • Product Dimensions: 5 x 1.2 x 5.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (71 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,729,313 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Without any doubt, Mathew Pearl is a capable and interesting author. I have yet to read The Dante Club (2002) (my misfortune) but I thoroughly enjoyed The Poe Shadow in 2006. Now comes The Last Dickens, very similar in style and pacing to The Poe Shadow, and well worth your time to read. That is providing you like intelligent, well written, very well researched, mysteries.

The Last Dickens is set in 1870, the year of Dickens' death. James R. Osgood, an American publisher handling what turns out to be Dickens' last novel, The Mystery of Edwin Drood, must travel the world in trying to solve the central mystery of the story, but must also save his ailing publishing business. Pearl manages to sculpt for us a grand mystery and layers it with the scandals of the time. He incorporates historical figures that were contemporaries of Dickens' and does so without becoming unrealistic or comic. The Last Dickens is very "atmospheric" and treats the reader to a wonderful reading experience. Pearl introduces us into a world that is far different from the one we live in today....and not the romantic vision of the Victorians we all seem to hold. Graft and corruption are everywhere. Copyright laws are nonexistent and authors essentially have no protection. Pearl's time researching for The Last Dickens in evident on virtually every page.

There are a number of current authors other than Mathew Pearl that capture the essence of the 19th century as well as he does. Of note are Dan Simmons and also Michael Cox. Dan Simmon's last book, Drood, also deals with the last years of Charles Dickens and incorporates historical figures in the same manner as Mathew Pearl.
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Format: Hardcover
Charles Dickens was the type of author who "even those who never in their life read any novels, would read his." His stories have endured the test of time since the mid-1800s. As THE LAST DICKENS opens, the latest story from the novelist's pen was eagerly awaited by the public. Published as a serial, THE MYSTERY OF EDWIN DROOD kept people hanging until the next installment. But when he died with it unfinished, it left readers in a frenzy to know what he intended. Had Edwin Drood survived in the end, or would his body be found somewhere?

In 1870, the year of Dickens's death, Boston publishers Fields, Osgood & Co. had the only American rights to print the works of Charles Dickens. Often, that legal right meant very little back then, since, whenever a publisher expected a manuscript, literary thieves called bookaneers would hang around the docks or roam the streets, ready to pilfer whatever they could get their hands on. Even at the public readings, these bookaneers, having schooled themselves at shorthand, would steal the words right from Dickens's mouth.

So it was that Daniel Sand, a delivery boy from Fields & Osgood, ended up being chased down by such a thief. Young Daniel was a trusted employee when he died, leaving his sister Rebecca, a bookkeeper at the publishing house, deep in mourning. For James Osgood, Daniel had also been a promising lad, one he held out much hope for, so the stories of drug use playing a part in his death hits Osgood hard. Barely able to believe it, he goes in search of the truth. And along with his search for what really happened to Daniel, he hopes to find more of THE MYSTERY OF EDWIN DROOD, praying with great fervor that Dickens had left new chapters, or at least some notes. Anything.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I began The Last Dickens immediately after finishing Dan Simmon's Drood and it was enlightening to see how different authors treat virtually the same historical material. As I read Pearl's book, I'd encounter a passage and say, "Oh, I remember that from Simmon's book. That adds more detail to what Simmons offered." Unfortunately, that was the most enjoyable part of The Last Dickens.

I read Drood in a few days. At half the length, Pearl's book took me more than twice as long to finish. And it's not because the material wasn't fresh and I was bored.

Both authors harvest the same historical data. But their plots are wildly dissimilar. Simmons concentrates on the last years of Dickens' life and his relationship with Wilkie Collins. Pearl, instead, begins with the death of Dickens and shows how that affects his Boston publisher (who must scramble to find every scrap left of Edwin Drood before publishing pirates devalue their exclusive, albeit expensive, deal with Dickens).

Both books focus on the effects of opium but Simmons uses it to detail one man's descent into paranoia and madness whereas Pearl treats it stereotypically as a trait of his villains. Simmons populates his book with characters who appear to have been lifted from the pages of Dickens' novels (or at least who were models for Dickens' characters). Pearl, on the other hand, doesn't have as many "Dickensian" characters, although he does provide some humor in describing how the English view Americans.

I enjoyed Pearl's depiction of American publishing and the book pirates. His recreation of Dickens American tour was also highly entertaining. But, sadly, his major plot drags and was a chore to read.
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