Davie Bennett's Reviews > The Dante Club

The Dante Club by Matthew Pearl
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Jan 25, 09

Read in January, 2009

A cool premise mired in humdrumery and bludgemongering. Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Dr. Oliver Wendell Holmes, James Russell Lowell and their publisher J.T. Fields comprise the Dante Club, a group of Harvard scholars who are attempting to birth the first American translation of Dante's Divine Comedy. As they near completion of their work, a serial killer is on the loose in Boston, copying scenes from the Inferno into grisly murders of some of the city's most notable citizens. The Dante Club, then, attempts to discover the identity of the killer before he murders again and spoils their version of Dante's masterpiece by associating it with his vile crimes. Like I said, it is a cool premise; the setting is the early winter of 1865 in the immediate aftermath of the Civil War, and the main characters, all based on American literary legends, are well done. But I had trouble focusing on this book for an extended period of time; it was just kind of boring sometimes. A more specific complaint: a couple of the book's minor characters, street criminals specifically, have dialogue that, while it may be authentic to the time and setting, is so bafflingly nonsensical and includes such obscure slang and verbiage that it made me want to chuck this mediocre tome into some roaring hearth on the next wet and bracing New England night that I live to see.
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message 1: by Kelly (new) - added it

Kelly Walker Thank you, Davie - I was worried that I was the only reader having difficulty maintaining interest for more than a few pages at a time. I'm still struggling through it.

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