Matthew Pearl continues to mine the vein he struck six years ago with THE DANTE CLUB, and then THE POE SHADOW, with his latest literary/historical mystery, THE LAST DICKENS. And, as the title suggests, this go-round he takes on another Big Kahuna of English Literature, Charles Dickens, and his unfinished final novel, THE MYSTERY OF EDWIN DROOD. There is quite a lot to admire about this latest from Pearl, but not without its price.
The story takes place mostly in 1870, when word of the death of Charles Dickens reaches Boston and the offices of his American publisher, Fields & Osgood. Dickens previously completed and published the first six installments of his latest novel, and the world awaits the final chapters that promise to resolve the mystery of the book’s title character. James Osgood, the publishing firm’s young partner, sends trusted clerk Daniel Sands to the shipping docks to receive the pages as they arrive from England. But then Daniel is found dead, and the manuscript is missing.