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The Dante Club: A Novel Paperback – February 10, 2004

4.1 out of 5 stars 536 ratings

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Editorial Reviews

From The New Yorker

The serial murderer who draws gory inspiration from the torments of Dante's Inferno has cropped up in thrillers before—Michael Dibdin's "A Rich Full Death" and Thomas Harris's "Hannibal"—but Pearl's ingenious notion is to set his début novel in Boston in 1865, when Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, James Russell Lowell, and Oliver Wendell Holmes were translating Dante into English. As they work through the cantos, the Dante-inspired corpses arrive on cue, and the versifiers must turn detective. Pearl, a Harvard graduate and Dante enthusiast, is at his best when discussing "The Divine Comedy" but is less suited to the generic demands of the thriller, which leads to obvious, and gruesome, B-movie plotting. He also has a fine sense of the period, but he overdoes things; the characters cannot walk down the street without tripping over some famous historical personage.
Copyright © 2005
The New Yorker

Review

“Ingenious . . . [Matthew Pearl] keeps this mystery sparkling with erudition.”—Janet Maslin, The New York Times

“Not just a page-turner but a beguiling look at the U.S. in an era when elites shaped the course of learning and publishing. With this story of the Dante Club’s own descent into hell, Mr. Pearl’s book will delight the Dante novice and expert alike.”
The Wall Street Journal

“[Pearl] ably meshes the . . . literary analysis with a suspenseful plot and in the process humanizes the historical figures. . . . A divine mystery.”
People (Page-turner of the Week)

“An erudite and entertaining account of Dante’s violent entrance into the American canon.”
Los Angeles Times

“A hell of a first novel . . .
The Dante Club delivers in spades. . . . Pearl has crafted a work that maintains interest and drips with nineteenth-century atmospherics.”San Francisco Chronicle

“Pearl’s ingenious notion is to set his début novel in Boston in 1865, when Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, James Russell Lowell, and Oliver Wendell Holmes were translating Dante into English.”
The New Yorker

“A most ingenious and beautifully written mystery—one that reminds us that siphoning meaning from chaos is also the métier of the detective.”
Commonweal

“Audacious and captivating . . . Pearl’s Dante scholarship is truly admirable, and hats off to anyone who’s this passionate about the crazy Florentine—or, indeed, to anyone who’s this passionate about anything. . . . Don’t be surprised if, after having read
The Dante Club, you find yourself revisiting your old tattered college-issued Inferno.”Esquire

“A thriller with resonance. Pearl has achieved that intoxicating blend of reality and imagination that Doctorow gave us . . . with
Ragtime.”The Orlando Sentinel

“Delightful and suspenseful, an unexpected story about Boston’s literary giants tracking a post–Civil War serial killer . . . a unique, ambitious, entertaining read, a historical thriller with a poetic streak.”
—Baltimore Sun

“There aren’t many writers around who can remind you of both James Patterson and Umberto Eco.”
San Jose Mercury News

“Like the great Italian poet himself, Pearl also shows a flair for suspenseful plotting and gruesome descriptions. . . . Pearl masterfully synthesizes countless aspects of mid-nineteenth-century life into a riveting mystery that creeps through all corners of crippled postwar Boston.”
Time Out New York

“A hellacious romp of a novel.”
The Plain Dealer

“The author achieves the right richness of detail, illuminating but never getting in the way of the story.”
The Denver Post
Always the perfect gift

Product details

  • ASIN ‏ : ‎ 0812971043
  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Random House Trade Paperbacks; Reprint edition (February 10, 2004)
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
  • Paperback ‏ : ‎ 400 pages
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 0375505296
  • ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-0375505294
  • Item Weight ‏ : ‎ 10.2 ounces
  • Dimensions ‏ : ‎ 5.24 x 0.89 x 7.94 inches
  • Customer Reviews:
    4.1 out of 5 stars 536 ratings

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Customer reviews

4.1 out of 5 stars
4.1 out of 5
536 global ratings

Top reviews from the United States

Reviewed in the United States 🇺🇸 on February 24, 2003
142 people found this helpful
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Reviewed in the United States 🇺🇸 on August 11, 2006
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Reviewed in the United States 🇺🇸 on December 17, 2006
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Top reviews from other countries

SarahBH
1.0 out of 5 stars Not worth time or money.
Reviewed in the United Kingdom 🇬🇧 on July 13, 2021
One person found this helpful
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Nicky Moxey
2.0 out of 5 stars Turgid prose, couldn't finish it
Reviewed in the United Kingdom 🇬🇧 on February 13, 2014
One person found this helpful
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JoBo
3.0 out of 5 stars If you like 19th century verbose prose (Dickens et al) then this ...
Reviewed in the United Kingdom 🇬🇧 on August 25, 2015
One person found this helpful
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D M Bullick
5.0 out of 5 stars An excellent historical mystery murder
Reviewed in the United Kingdom 🇬🇧 on June 16, 2014
3 people found this helpful
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Robert Gill
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Reviewed in the United Kingdom 🇬🇧 on November 6, 2016