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Der Schlaf der Toten
Andrew Taylor
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Der Schlaf der Toten

3.5 of 5 stars 3.50  ·  rating details  ·  1,394 ratings  ·  121 reviews
England 1819: Thomas Shield, a new master at a school just outside London, is tutor to a young American boy and the boy's sensitive best friend, Charles Frant. Drawn to Frant's beautiful, unhappy mother, Thomas becomes caught up in her family's twisted intrigues. Then a brutal crime is committed, with consequences that threaten to destroy Thomas and all that he has come to ...more
Published 2005 by Goldmann (first published January 1st 2003)
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Jan 31, 2010 Laura rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Laura by: fiona quinn
Shelves: xx-2010-xx
This is a great book. Andrew Taylor really should be more popular. Maybe the fact that he isn't as popular is a compliment? At any rate, plot and characterization were both fantastic here. I was sucked in very quickly, and it definitely has the feel of a 19th century work of fiction, even though it is a modern work.

This man is just a great talent and he continues to impress me. The books I've read of his have a completely different feel, but the writing is undeniably Taylor. Do yourself a favor
I loved this book.

I've read many of the reviews, and while I agree with some of the criticisms (more on that later) I was so thoroughly caught up in this murder mystery set in the pre-Dickensian era that I have to put it on my list of favorites. The atmosphere, the details, the environment was richly rendered, the characters were fully fleshed and three-dimensional, and the mystery was intriguing, properly grisly, intricate and always compelling.

It is about a schoolteacher named Thomas Shield wh
Meh. I found the first half intriguing enough, but the second half bored me. I found it hard to stay connected to the plot and the characters. The more intricate the plot got, the less interested I became. I was tempted to abandon this book, but I'd already invested so much time in it. I don't know why I do this to myself, but I forced myself to finish it.

The only reason I gave it three stars instead of two was because historical fiction requires a considerable degree of competence on the part
Hilary G
I did not like this book.

This is the second book (Fingersmith being the first) in our reading list which appears to have got at least half its ideas from Wilkie Collins. Perhaps if I had never heard of, or never read, Wilkie Collins, I would have enjoyed this book, but since I have heard of him, and The Woman in White, and the Moonstone are favourites of mine, and since The American Boy is (in my opinion) so inferior to either one of these, I found the book irritating in the extreme.

"An enthrall
This review is one of those times when I would like half stars to be available, as I probably would give it a 4 1/2. I loved the whole Edgar Allan Poe connection, and it was handled with much care and craft. Taylor does so well what sets apart a good read from a great read, layering. He gives you a three-dimensional read, rather than a flat two-dimensional. I look forward to reading more by this engaging author.
It's such a great feeling when you have really enjoyed reading a book and find that there are plenty of other novels by the same author that you can add to your list of books to read.

I enormously enjoyed reading this. I'm not really a fan of historical novels and when I'm in a bookshop I'll usually ignore those that are set in another era. I'm not really sure why, as this is one of a number of historical novels that I have read which have been excellent.

Not having ever read any Poe, I'm sure mu
(Dear Fiona)

The first thing I had to keep in my mind was that The American boy is set in 1800 London. The story gets told by Thomas Shield whose life changes he gets a position as tutor to the American boy Edgar poe and his best friend Charles.

Things seems to be going finally better in his life, he is respectable and has a job. But his life will complately change for the better but for sure also for the worse the moment he meets Charles and Edgar's family.

The way the story is written, different
So glad I discovered this book. A thoroughly good mystery wrapped up in a certain amount of fact. I now know how Manor House underground station got its name! I started my working life over looking St. Giles High Street and often walked through Seven Dials. It has only been in more recent years that I have learned the full history of the areas. The author brings the degradation experienced here in the early 19th century fully to life, as he does other aspects of life in late Regency England. The ...more
Book Wormy
Set in the early 1800's this is an intriguing murder mystery loosely based around the early life of Edgar Allan Poe his fathers mysterious disappearance and his time spent in England.

While the key facts are true Poes father did disappear and Poe was adopted by the Allans who took him to England the main part of the story is pure fiction.

The American Boy is actually a minor character within the novel however he is the catalyst that brings people together and causes certain events to occur.

The mur
An atmospheric and entertaining story that is a mixture of crime novel and historical melodrama. Reminds you of Wilkie Collins and Charles Dickens. Twists and turns all the way to the end. Thoroughly enjoyed this - kept me guessing. A great way to pass time during a wet and grey January in England
Alethea Bothwell
What a slow-moving BORING book! It did have a plot - quite a complicated one - but until it was all explained in the last several pages, it seemed as though nothing much was going on.

And I kept waiting for Edgar Allen to become an important character.
Karen Wellsbury
Another book I read a few months back (I am doing a bit of housekeeping at the moment) and I remember it being quite atmospheric, but didn't really hook me in, I wanted to liken it more than I actually did.
As well as being a brilliant read I love this author for incorporating Gloucester into his historical novel, a wonderful city, much maligned.
Andrew Taylor is a wonderful writer. In a way, you can't "go wrong" with his books. They are meticulously researched and very well thought out. That said, they do move at a very leisurely pace and there is some distance, some lack of passionate engagement with the characters that leaves me a bit dissatisfied. Also, in this book, I felt the title and related "gimmick" were totally unnecessary to my enjoyment or understanding of the book. That seemed weird. However, give him a try. I will read mor ...more
2007 thoughts from good old bookcrossing....

I finished reading this book this evening and I really enjoyed it. It is a mystery/thriller, but it's not a fast paced, action packed thing... but it works. Taylor has made such a good job of creating this historical atmosphere, and with the masses of relatively short chapters, he keeps your curiosity going.

I think people picking up the book purely for the Edgar Allen Poe connection will be a bit disappointed. I was a little surprised by how incidental
Jason Webster, writing in Aeon magazine ( argues that detective/mystery fiction arose and gathers adherents in societies that have become secular. The detective becomes one (like a priest or shaman) who makes sense out of existential crises (i.e. murder-how existential can you get?).
Andrew Taylor writes historical fiction/mysteries and does so very well. In The American Boy, the historical part consists of a period of time when the Edgar Allan (Poe) is en
Helen Kitson
Labyrinthine historical novel (opening in 1819), written simply but engagingly.

My only puzzle is why the book is titled 'The American Boy'. Although the boy, Edgar Allan Poe, features in the story and is crucial to some of the plot developments, as a character he is rather colourless. The story is very much that of the narrator, tutor Thomas Shield, thrown by accident (via Poe's best friend Charlie) into a world of intrigue, corruption, family secrets and murder. Unprepared but dogged, Shield re
Jennifer (JC-S)
‘Sometimes it is easier to punish the wicked than to defend the innocent.’

The novel opens in England in 1819 where Thomas Shield (our narrator) takes a position as a junior usher at a school near London. Shield is fortunate to obtain the position - he was unable to complete his studies at Cambridge after his father died, he has no reference from his last position, and his brief military career was disastrous.

So, how does such a man become caught up in events which include a bank collapse and a m
The American Boy is a pre-Victorian murder mystery set in 1819-20 but, amazingly, was written in the twenty-first century. It was inspired by the author's interest in the brief period that Edgar Allan Poe spent in England while still a young boy. Building on this real event and some of the real characters, such as Edgar's foster father John Allan and his natural father David Poe, Andrew Taylor spins a mystery out of this moment in the famous author's life. The result is a very satisfying mystery ...more
A totally enthralling murder mystery with twists and turns aplenty! It's set in 1819 England and our narrator is Thomas Shield, a tutor to two young boys. One is Edgar Allan (the 'American Boy' of the title, destined to become the writer Edgar Allan Poe) and the other, his friend, Charles Frant. Through his involvement with these boys, Shield is unwittingly sucked into the lives of the Frant/Carswall family members and their murky dangerous secrets. The historical background is brilliantly and e ...more
Sep 27, 2007 Mary rated it 1 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: ???
I couldn't finish this book. I hate the device of literal foreshadowing. Quote-pg. 8: "Nor did I realise that X and Y would lead me, step by step, towards the dark heart of a labyrinth, to a place of terrible secrets and the worst of crimes." Up until that sentence I was interested in the story. I find this only works for me when I've already been introduced to the character who is narrating and have some sympathy for him/her at that point when they begin the story. But to throw these bombs into ...more
Well, I have to say the rave reviews and the hopes of having a book with a mystery surrounding a young Edgar Allen Poe was what made me pick this up. I was disappointed in this book. The writing is excellent and he has a great way of storytelling, but where was the mystery? It just kind of hovered there making it seem much more than it was. And the worst part was that Edgar seemed to have little or no role in the main plot. The author acknowledges his historic accuracy in the epilogue but I coul ...more
Ágætis reyfari. Gerist 1819 í Bretlandi og virðist vera fín lýsing á þeim tíma og skrifuð eins og hún hafi verið skrifuð þá - hefði alveg getað verið eftir Wilkie Collins. Er samt skrifuð á þessari öld.
Tengingin við Edgar Allan Poe er allt í lagi en sagan skilur svo sem ekkert eftir sig.
This book reads as a 19th century novel of the kind that Wilkie Collins could have written: its language and tone are largely authentic, and like many books of the period, there is a large cast of characters from all walks of life. Thomas Shield, a schoolmaster with a troubled past is the narrator, and he introduces us to the wealthy Frants and Carswells, whose lives he becomes intimately involved with. There's the young Edgar Allan Poe too, though I'm not sure how important his part really is, ...more
A really excellent, satisfying and complex read.
The authors uses language in a detailed and studied way in an attempt to reproduce the sights, sounds, smells of the early 19c as well as the highly mannered and rule governed relationships.

Other GR reviewers have written and described more about the plot, so I won't repeat it again here. Suffice it to say that if one likes complex, thought provoking and evocative novels, with elements of romance, dastardly seeds and derring do, one could do worse
Jane Walker
This wasn't quite up to the very high standard of the only other of Taylor's books I've read, The Silent Boy. The writing is excellent, but the plot gets too intricate and has to be explained at length towards the end, which is never a good sign.
Historical Mystery and Suspense!

I enjoyed listening to this book. It was read so well! I could just smell old London and feel the cold. All the while I was wondering how this had affected the later Edgar Allen Poe.
England, 1819 - 20 .crime novel, well told, authentic period detail and behavioural standards - the boy is the young Edgar Allen Poe at school where Thomas Sheild is master and who gets caught up in the mystery.
I was surprised by this one. I really did not think I'd end up liking this book and yet I did. It's rather detailed and twisty turvy so the best thing to do would be read it straight through. Very interesting tale which I enjoyed. Also this story apparently contains some of the events surrounding the childhood of Edgar Allen Poe.
This is a story that takes place in the 19th century. You can get lost in the old english text but it really is a good read! I agree that Andrew Taylor should be more p
A labyrinthine murder mystery evocatively set in late Regency England. Andrew Taylor has obviously done his reasearch well and serves up a dense piece of historical fiction that works well as a detective story, a gothic romance and a slice of social history. The style is artful and the tale is full of colourful Regency characters up to no good. Comparisons have been drawn with Dickens as well as elements of Edgar Allen Poe, who features in a childhood supporting role. The complex plot unwinds at ...more
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Andrew Taylor (b. 1951) is a British author of mysteries. Born in East Anglia, he attended university at Cambridge before getting an MA in library sciences from University College London. His first novel, Caroline Miniscule (1982), a modern-day treasure hunt starring history student William Dougal, began an eight-book series and won Taylor wide critical acclaim. He has written several other thrill ...more
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