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The Last Dickens

3.55  ·  Rating Details ·  5,553 Ratings  ·  755 Reviews
Boston, 1870. When news of Charles Dickens's sudden death reaches his struggling American publisher, James Osgood sends his trusted clerk, Daniel Sand, to await the arrival of Dickens's unfinished final manuscript. But Daniel never returns, and when his body is discovered by the docks, Osgood must embark on a quest to find the missing end to the novel and unmask the killer ...more
Paperback, 393 pages
Published October 6th 2009 by Random House Trade Paperbacks (first published January 1st 2009)
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Thomas Walsh
"The Dante Club" was marvelous. "The Poe Shadow" was astounding. Now, Pearl tackles my favorite author. It has to be a blockbuster!I finished this book. Mr. Pearl has done it again!! I thought nothing could top his novel on Poe, but I was wrong: run to read this book!!!
Nov 03, 2014 Tony rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Pearl, Matthew. THE LAST DICKENS. (2009). *****. Pearl manages to provide us with an intelligent – but rip-roaring adventure at the same time – mystery story surrounding Charles Dickens’ last novel, “The Mystery of Edwin Drood.” The plot involves the American publishing house of Fields & Osgood, formerly Ticknor & Fields, the only authorized publishing house in America for Dickens’ novels. These were the days of no international copyright laws, and English books were most often pirated b ...more
Nov 03, 2014 Michelle rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Pearl plunges into the world of 1870, skillfully blending historical fact and literary fiction into a riveting tale about Charles Dickens’ unfinished last novel, The Mystery of Edwin Drood.
Drawing on original letters and newspapers, Pearl recounts the extraordinary celebrity of Dickens during his speaking tour of America, where hundreds would line up overnight, enduring freezing temperatures in the hopes of obtaining tickets to his sold out shows.
The seedy underworld of the opium trade washes
May 20, 2009 Gail rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2009
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Ben Babcock
Recipe for a historical mystery: 1) Find an unsolved mystery from a past time period. 2) Think up a plausible solution for the mystery, then take some historical characters and have them discover the truth. 3) Come up with a plausible explanation for why, if these people solved the mystery, it remains unsolved to this day.

Recipe for a historical literary mystery: repeat the steps above, shake vigorously, and add a dead writer of your choice. Missing manuscripts and unfinished novels are a bonus.
Nov 11, 2009 Henrik rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: thriller
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Sep 02, 2009 Linda rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
The first Matthew Pearl novel I read was THE POE SHADOW, which was a fascinating concept --- allowing the reader to experience such a famous (and mysterious) writer as a real person. I felt that the idea was not equaled by the execution in that book. I thought I would try one more time, however, so I just finished reading THE LAST DICKENS, obviously a novel featuring Charles Dickens. Once again, the concept was great. In both cases the author based his characters and events on true stories and r ...more
Nicola Mansfield
Reason for Reading: I'm always interested in Victorian historical fiction plus I've read two other books this year that concerned Charles Dickens: 'Drood' by Dan Simmons and 'Wanting' by Richard Flanagan. Therefore I thought why not add a third to the mix especially since this concentrated on Dickens last novel as did 'Drood'.

Comments: Dickens has just died leaving his last book "The Mystery of Edwin Drood" only half-finished. But one of the partners of his American publishing house James Osgoo
Nov 03, 2014 Wendy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Starting a review is always a difficult task for me. I come up with ideas and end up dismissing them on second or third thought. In regards to this review, should I begin with the fact that this is my first Matthew Pearl novel? I have wanted to read his books for some time now but it took a book tour for me to finally pick one up and give it a try. This seems to be something I have been doing quite a bit--joining a book tour as an excuse to read a book I’ve wanted to read but haven’t managed to ...more
Apr 03, 2015 Amy rated it it was amazing
The Last Dickens engulfs readers and transports us to times and methods gone by in the writing and publishing world and the rather seedy opium business. Who knew that there were Bookaneers [scrappy people who stop at nothing to access unpublished works by various authors:] and such vengeful publishers about? Today of course there are bidding wars between publishing houses for someone’s memoir or novel but it is not the pirate-like business in which author Matthew Pearl describes in The Last Dick ...more
I wanted to like this novel, really I did. I love Dickens's novels and pretty much anything to do with Dickens, and I have an especial soft spot for Drood. But Pearl's novel left me cold. I kept trying to get more involved in the plot's nefarious twists and turns, and to appreciate his trademark authorial touches, including the subtle nod at recent Dickens scholars with a postcolonial lens ... but the novel kept rejecting my attempts at affection. It begins with a premise familiar to anyone who ...more
Jan 19, 2011 Karyl rated it it was ok
On June 9, 1870, Charles Dickens died suddenly at his home. He was only 58. At the time of his death, he was hard at work at a novel called The Mystery of Edwin Drood, but he'd only finished half the novel. This book follows his American publisher, James R. Osgood, who believed the last half of Drood had been written before Dickens's death, and the race to find it before more unsavory characters got their hands on the manuscript. The synopsis of the book makes it sound right up my alley -- a mys ...more
this was quite a lot harder to get into than the Dante Club...but I remain a fan of this author. Pearl always educates, and this book is no exception. The mystery of Edwin Drood remains a mystery, and yet The Last Dickens proposes a tale so believable one thinks it must be true. But so much of Dickens remains a mystery in this tale. And the book did not flow as well as I expected. I did not fully understand the purpose of telling a story about Dickens' son in India, except to transition the read ...more
Feb 26, 2012 Keith rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
As historical novels go I think this one was particularly fascinating in how intricately the events of the story’s fictional characters are interwoven with the actual historical events of Dickens life. James Ripley Osgood, the junior partner in the American publishing firm representing Charles Dickens, sets out in pursuit of clues to the conclusion of Dickens final novel which was left only half finished at the time of his death. The completion of the novel is of great import to his American pub ...more
Rebecca Foster
Fluffy but compelling. The puff from Dan Brown on the cover says it all: Pearl’s is a rather low-brow brand of literary historical fiction. I surprised myself with my willingness to give Pearl another try; after all, I found The Dante Club strangely slow-paced and dull despite its sensational subject matter. But I’m glad I persevered and read this one.

Though it has Pearl’s usual slow exposition and slightly flat character development, the Victorian settings and Dickensian theme meant that I did
Nov 03, 2014 Linda rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Matthew Pearl has a winning adventure of the highest literary calibur. He attended Harvard and also has taught literature at Harvard. I will be checking out his book on Lonfellow, and Edgar Allen Poe with several cups of hot chocolate to help through the mystery of his well written books. 'The Last Dickens' comes close to the truth as most of the characters were real people and Matthew has kept to historic acuracy. Yet the book grips you with the mystery of Dickens last book.
James Osgood is the
Jan 02, 2012 Ellie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: historical
Matthew Pearl's third historical literary thriller turns its sights onto the mystery of Dickens' final unfinished work. Shortly after his death, Dickens' American publisher embarks on a search to find out the true ending of The Mystery of Edwin Drood before his rivals can release a fake.

One of the most interesting parts for me was that around the history of American publishing. Even in the late 17th Century Harper & Brothers (to later become the modern day HarperCollins) were considered the
I enjoyed this, but of all the three Pearl books have read so far this to me is the weakest.

The best thing about Mr. Pearl's historical literature fictional mysteries is that he obviously loves and even revers the literary figures and works that he writes about. While am sure that Mr. Pearl takes certain liberties in making literary figures "characters" in a fictional tale, he does so in a way that manages to stay respectful. I actually enjoy it and it always has the added bonus that I actually
Booklover, Indianapolis
(August) 1.5* I really didn't like this book at all! It was, IMO, a convoluted mess! There were parts that were pointless, parts that made no sense,and the ending - huh? I still am not sure I get the whys and wherefores of the mystery. I'm not a mystery reader as a general rule, but still -it was really confusing as to what exactly the "bad guys" wanted, why they did what they did. The entire parts that took place in India were poitless as was most of the storyline w/Dickens still alive. I found ...more
Jeff Jellets
Jan 01, 2013 Jeff Jellets rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
Matthew Pearl’s The Last Dickens is a double mystery connected to Charles Dickens’ great unfinished novel The Mystery of Edwin Drood. First, it’s an historical “whodunit,” which leads publisher James Osgood and his girl Friday, Rebecca Sand, on a hunt to find the missing pages of Charles Dickens’ last unfinished novel and to unravel the book’s connection to the murder of Rebecca’s brother. And second, The Last Dickens is also Pearl’s attempt to posit an ending The Mystery of Edwin Drood, a puzzl ...more
Annette Lyttle
From beginning to end, The Last Dickens, by Matthew Pearl, author of The Dante Club and The Poe Shadow, remains an idea with great potential that suffers in the execution. I found the structure of the story, which shifts from the story’s present in which Dickens has just died to a recent past in which he is touring America for the last time, difficult to follow (and what is the India thing with Dickens’s son doing popping in and out of the narrative?).

The book has lots of very promising element
Jul 05, 2013 Shelley rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really enjoy Matthew Pearl's novels; I like how he takes a famous literary mystery and gives us a combination of historical fiction and mystery. Here, we learn about Dickens' reading tour of the US, his last days, publishing rivalries, and the sordid world of opium dealers and drug dens in the mid to late 19th century. Overall, a fun, fast paced read. I was surprised to learn that many of the events in the novel were based on actual events (Dickens led an interesting life!). The India storylin ...more
Ann Sloan
Jul 31, 2013 Ann Sloan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
In a way, every piece of fiction is a mystery – How is it going to turn out? What will happen to the characters? If the reader doesn’t care, then the author hasn’t succeeded in writing a good book. The author must create a degree of eagerness and anxiety in the reader to keep him (or her) turning the pages. The anxiety in The Last Dickens is ideal for the bibliophile: what happens when we lose the voices that tell us what happens next? It’s June 1870, and Charles Dickens suffers a stroke midway ...more
Sep 14, 2013 Correen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

Charles Dickens completes his tour in the United States, returns to London, and succumbs to an infection that some believe resulted from his tour. Pearl takes this bit of information, researches the events in and surrounding Dicken's life, and develops an interesting story. Using the real characters that were important to Dickens and adding a minimum of fictional characters, Pearl relates his story of intrigue and romance. He makes an interesting assumption that underlies his tale, that Dickens
Steve Smits
Nov 01, 2013 Steve Smits rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A fascinating, ingenious novel. Pearl weaves a tale of mystery and intrigue involving a search for the last installments of The Mystery of Edwin Drood, Charles Dickens's unfinished novel. Fields and Osgood, his American publishers, have held off their competitors by being Dickens's publishing firm in North America. Before the protections of international copyright protocols unauthorized, pirate versions of popular English novels meant that those who could first produce legitimate versions had an ...more
Jan 17, 2014 Peter rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
The Last Dickens by Matthew Pearl is a book I really wanted to like. Victorian Literature is my favourite genre, Dickens my favourite author and the mystery that surrounds the unfinished Mystery of Edwin Drood one of the great questions of Dickens' scholars. Sadly, when I found myself reading The Last Dickens I felt more and more like exclaiming "please sir, I want more."

Matthew Pearl has done his homework in this work of historical fiction. The characters of Dickens, Forster, Dolby and others a
Histórias à volta de escritores e mistérios literários são muito apelativos, mas este livro não foi uma das minhas melhores escolhas, apesar de abordar a vida de um autor que gosto – Charles Dickens.

Na verdade, estava à espera de mais ação. O autor, tentando ser fiel às personagens, a sua maioria figuras históricas, ficou demasiado preso aos factos e o lado “thriller” da história acabou por ser um pouco previsível.

Estamos em 1870 e Charles Dickens morre sem acabar o seu último livro “O Mistério
Mar 29, 2016 Sandra rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
É mais um 3,5 e esse meio ponto vai para a personagem James Ripley Osgood que está muito bem caracterizada e à altura das situações que lhe vão surgindo.

Um bocadinho chato no início (ainda não percebi porque é que o autor colocou três ou quatro capítulos a falar sobre o filho do Dickens, militar em Bengala. Seria por causa do ópio e suas consequências? Não vejo relação, contudo)

Depois, quando se começa a seguir a viagem de Osgood e Rebecca para Inglaterra e todos os percalços que por lá passaram
Stephen Arvidson
Aug 31, 2016 Stephen Arvidson rated it it was amazing
The works of Charles Dickens have stood the test of time since the 19th century, including his final, unfinished novel, The Mystery of Edwin Drood. Published as a serial, TMoED kept adoring readers eagerly awaiting the next installment. Yet, when Dickens perished from a stroke midway through the novel, the world was aghast at losing its most popular author, the public left frantically yearning to know the author’s intentions. Was Edwin Drood murdered—and if so, who was the killer? Was it Edwin's ...more
Gilbert G.
Sep 27, 2016 Gilbert G. rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Matthew Pearl is INCREDIBLE
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Literary Adventure : The Last Dickens 1 6 Apr 10, 2014 04:09PM  
Hampden B.A.G.: Questions 1 13 Dec 07, 2011 01:25PM  
Hampden B.A.G.: Thoughts while reading (NO SPOILERS!) 1 11 Dec 07, 2011 01:23PM  
  • The Minutes of the Lazarus Club
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  • The Devil's Company (Benjamin Weaver, #3)
  • Stone's Fall
  • Drood
  • Ex-Libris
  • The Anatomy of Deception
  • The Blackest Bird
  • The Library of Shadows
  • La Rosa Di Alessandria
  • What Alice Knew: A Most Curious Tale of Henry James & Jack the Ripper
  • The Book of Air and Shadows
  • Grace Hammer : a Novel of the Victorian Underworld
  • The Glory Cloak: A Novel of Louisa May Alcott and Clara Barton
  • The Meaning of Night
  • La reina oculta
  • Mientras vivimos
  • The Mesmerist
Matthew Pearl is the author of the novels The Dante Club, The Poe Shadow, The Last Dickens, The Technologists, and The Last Bookaneer. His books have been New York Times bestsellers and international bestsellers translated into more than 30 languages. His nonfiction writing has appeared in the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, the Boston Globe, and He has been heard on shows incl ...more
More about Matthew Pearl...

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“Books do pretend ...but squeezed in between is even more that is true—without what you may call the lies, the pages would be too light for the truth, you see?” 6 likes
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