Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Fifth Heart” as Want to Read:
The Fifth Heart
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

The Fifth Heart

3.45  ·  Rating details ·  3,139 ratings  ·  601 reviews
In 1893, Sherlock Holmes and Henry James come to America together to solve the mystery of the 1885 death of Clover Adams, wife of the esteemed historian Henry Adams--member of the Adams family that has given the United States two Presidents. Clover's suicide appears to be more than it at first seemed; the suspected foul play may involve matters of national importance.

Hardcover, 618 pages
Published March 24th 2015 by Little, Brown and Company
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about The Fifth Heart, please sign up.
Popular Answered Questions
Midas68 There were so many so called tolerant enlightened ones who not only were intolerant of Simmons Flashback book but were damn right hateful to the point…moreThere were so many so called tolerant enlightened ones who not only were intolerant of Simmons Flashback book but were damn right hateful to the point of death threats.

The Ironic thing about many modern liberals is that they refuse to consider if they are being hypocritical.

The Hated Book Flashback just happened to be a revision and expansion of a novella he did in the 80's. Since the president was Republican back then, He took the story from Reagan's era and took the fictional future of his govt and did a dystopia from that.

When he decided to expand it into a novel a few decades later. A Democrat was then President and he took the Obama era and expanded that possible future into a dystopia.

Ironically the same people that hate Simmons for presenting opinions they have disdain for in the Novel, would have loved the same story he wrote as it was from a left and not right perspective.

The funny thing is basically all we have is left and right politics, Both sides ignorantly hating the other even though they need each other like a dysfunctional Siamese twin. But it's quite amazing when a science fiction writer writes a fictional dystopia that isn't liberal agenda based in nature and becomes something akin to a "Enemy of the State"

I myself fell for this and refused to read the book for quite a few years because of this same bias, It' was all that "Hope and Change" that came out to just be "More of the Same" that eventually allowed me to overcome my preconceived bigotry on the subject and give this fiction book a chance.

Oh and if anyone has trouble finding it. It's in his collection called "LoveDeath" and The name of the Novella is called "Flashback"
Aaron I wouldn't think so. I've only ever read one Henry James novel (and hated it) and it didn't keep me from enjoying this novel. I will say, though, that…moreI wouldn't think so. I've only ever read one Henry James novel (and hated it) and it didn't keep me from enjoying this novel. I will say, though, that you are well served to familiarize yourself with the work of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. This novel is written very much in the style of old Sherlock Holmes stories and references said stories frequently.(less)

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 3.45  · 
Rating details
 ·  3,139 ratings  ·  601 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of The Fifth Heart
Mogsy (MMOGC)
3 of 5 stars at The BiblioSanctum

A Dan Simmons book is like a box of chocolates; you never know what you’re gonna get. And like a box of chocolates, you know they’re all good but some are going to be better than others. Simmons is a versatile author who seems to write a bit of everything, and I’ve come to the conclusion that for me personally, his Historical Fiction is kind of like those sticky little peanut nougats – that is, they’re not my favorite. I’d
Jan 27, 2015 rated it really liked it
In the rainy March of 1893, for reasons that no one understands (primarily because no one besides us is aware of this story), the London-based American author Henry James decided to spend his April 15 birthday in Paris and there, on or before his birthday, commit suicide by throwing himself into the Seine at night.

So obviously we're in a Dan Simmons book because a semi-obscure (at least in 2015) late 19th-century author is one of the main characters. And also because we're in a Dan Simmons book,
In a similar vein to the brilliant Drood Dan Simmons now focuses on a different historical duo. On a trip to France Henry James makes the decision to end his life only to find intervention in the unlikeliest of people; the fictional detective genius made real Sherlock Holmes. James gets roped into traveling with Holmes to America to investigate the apparent suicide of Clover Adams seven years previous. Her brother doesn’t believe the suicide verdict and hires Holmes to delve a little deeper.

Dec 12, 2014 added it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: dnf
I hate to admit defeat on any book, but especially one written by an author whose books I love. Here, though, is the exception that proves the rule. I think the fact that I am no fan at all of either Sherlock Holmes or Henry James isn't helping. At the rate I'm reading this, it'll take me another ten hours or so to finish, and I just don't think I can manage that and retain my sanity. My hardback copy is also falling to pieces - I take that as a sign. I do, though, look forward very much to the ...more
Apr 06, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: murder-mystery
As a fan of both Simmons and Conan Doyle I wanted to like this one better. It's well written, with an interesting premise, and parts of it are great fun. It's the other parts I have more trouble with - the sudden reveals out of nowhere, the dropping of plot points into holes where they sink to be lost forever and Simmons' increasingly annoying tic of dumping his research on the page instead of plot.

That said, Holmes is Holmes, Henry James is nicely portrayed, and there's more than enough nods an
Steven Belanger
Apr 19, 2015 rated it really liked it
A good Dan Simmons book, though not one of his best (Drood and The Terror are that), The Fifth Heart has a lot going for it, and not too much against it--depending on the reader's level of patience and tolerance.

It's a lot of things, perhaps too many. It's a thriller in a potboiler vein--like Conan Doyle's work. (He's often mentioned but never seen.) It's a mystery of rich people's manners and mannerisms--a la Henry James, perhaps the book's main character. It's a mystery of deduction and induct
Amy Sturgis
During his Great Hiatus, Sherlock Holmes joins author Henry James to investigate the mystery of the supposed suicide of Clover Adams, wife of historian Henry Adams. I'd read that Dan Simmons throws everything but the kitchen sink into this tale, but I'm pretty sure that the kitchen sink made it in, as well.

Although I have an interest in the works of Henry James (especially the Gothic Turn of the Screw), I read this primarily as a Sherlock Holmes tale, intrigued by what I'd heard of the premise:
Apr 06, 2015 rated it it was amazing

I love Simmons, if I could have given this book more stars I would have given it an even higher rating.
Apr 22, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2020
At the top of the card within the plain border, there were five hearts embossed. Four of the hearts had been colored in, in blue, with what looked to have been hasty strokes of a colored pencil or crayon. The fifth heart was left uncolored – blank.

Henry James knew immediately the more general meaning of what the hearts signified. He had no clue as to what the empty heart or the single line of print below the letters – a single sentence that looked to have been added by a typewriting machine
Mar 26, 2015 rated it it was amazing
The Fifth Heart is, in some ways, the third book in an unofficial series. Dan Simmons already tackled Ernest Hemingway in The Crook Factory, and breathed life into Charles Dickens and Wilkie Collins by writing Drood. Both of those novels are an immense amount of fun -- The Crook Factory is a lighthearted spy novel with some sinister themes, and Drood is a phantasmagoric fever dream infused with opium. I recommend them both.

The Fifth Heart, however, succeeds in ways that the other two novels did
11811 (Eleven)
Mar 25, 2015 rated it liked it
Dan Simmons is probably the most unpredictable among my favorite authors. All I know going in is that I will award it somewhere between one and five stars.

I’m setting on three this time. The Terror and The Abominable are two of my favorite Simmons novels. Both are historical fiction more than anything else and The Fifth Heart is written in the same vein.

I’ve never been a big fan of Sherlock Holmes which is a big part of the reason I didn’t enjoy this but the main reason I was disappointed is th
Sherlock Holmes teams up with Henry James in this meticulously researched imagining of America's 'Gilded Age' and brings the post American Civil War boom era to life. Of the 3 cases the pair get to be involved in... and the most puzzling case of all... is concern that Holmes could be a fictional person, and that they might be characters in a novel!

The Five Hearts were a real group of five friends centred round Henry Adams, a privileged and elite group who personally knew every president from Lin
Katie Whitt
Mar 25, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I think Dan Simmons just has a direct line into my brain because he keeps coming out with exactly the book I want to read. This one has a special place in my heart because a) I love reading books about literary people and b) I've long been obsessed with Sherlock Holmes and all things related. This book is a virtuoso performance, and the discussion between Henry James and Samuel Clemens about being characters in a book 50 to 100 years from their present time was one of my favorite book passages o ...more
Jon Recluse
Jun 16, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: mystery
Simmons' addition to the canon is an interesting read, for the most part. His version of Sherlock Holmes is pitch perfect, as the detective joins forces with Henry James to solve a mystery in the U.S., while pondering the reality of his own existence. The historical figures that the pair encounter, fictional ones included, are all well represented. Although Simmons is rapidly becoming the Tom Clancy of historical research, which does bog down the pacing, at least his output is more readable than ...more
Apr 29, 2015 rated it really liked it
A sensation novel featuring anarchists and assassins at the 1893 Chicago World's Columbian Exposition (the White City). Sherlock Holmes and Henry James play detective as they try to uncover a world-wide conspiracy and also solve a secondary mystery involving a woman's suicide. Lots of famous people of that time are featured in the story - at times too many - including Teddy Roosevelt, Samuel Clemens, and Rudyard Kipling. There is also some existential musing by Holmes on whether or not he might ...more
Jul 03, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This is my second Simmons book (first was Hyperion) and the two couldn't be more different!
Don't get me wrong I love them both but this one has a lot more elements that I the enigma that is Sherlock Holmes!
I enjoyed Henry James too and all the historical details and most of the secondary characters - so much attention to detail - just brilliant.
This is a mystery in a mystery with a few other mysteries thrown in for good measure.
I will concede that a couple of the scenes involving
Apr 08, 2015 rated it it was ok
Giving up at 30%. Simmons is talented, and has used every intelligent trick in the book - literary characters, meta-fiction, changing view points, philosophical musings (as in - how do I know that I am not a literary character? and suchlike), speaking directly to the reader, a murder, historical characters, and more and more. It is all quite interesting, and still, something just doesn't work in this book. You don't care what happened, you don't care about the characters (maybe a little about He ...more
Horror Bookworm Reviews
Jan 25, 2015 rated it it was amazing

The Fifth Heart by Dan Simmons

In 1893 a chance meeting with Sherlock Holmes for London based American author Henry James will turn his depressed life upside down and will never be the same. When paths cross, James finds himself the center piece of a complicated murder crime. Now he must assist the famous consulting detective Sherlock Holmes on the greatest mystery of his rich historical career. Mr. Holmes has discovered he is not a real person, yet only a literary character, an inked fictional c
Ivonne Rovira
Jun 17, 2016 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: no one really
Recommended to Ivonne by: Randee M.
A novel pairing the world’s greatest detective and a novelist who explored the psychological depths of his characters. A meticulously researched novel that centers on the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago — the newly electrified White City who some will recognize from Erik Larson’s The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair That Changed America — peopled with dozens of real historical figures: President Grover Cleveland, Vice President Adlai Stephenson, Mark T ...more
Apr 01, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: first-reads
One night in 1893, Sherlock Holmes encounters suicidal Henry James on the Seine. Holmes distracts James from his suicide plan and convinces him to accompany him to America to solve the case of the murder of Clover Adams. From this point on, the narrative builds into a complex mystery that involves not only resolving Adams' murder, but also the question of whether or not a fictional character is "real."

I won The Fifth Heart as a GoodReads giveaway--as a fan of Conan Doyle and Henry James, I thoug
Allan Nail
Sep 04, 2015 rated it it was ok
When I was a junior in high school, I wrote a paper on The Red Badge of Courage. I got an A, even though I had never read the book. Didn't use Cliffnotes, just my own natural talent for bullshit. Still haven't read it, and don't plan to. I share this because it is an anecdote involving Stephen Crane that is 200% more relevant to The Fifth Heart than the anecdote involving Stephen Crane that actually appears toward the end of The Fifth Heart.

So many thoughts going through my head right now. This
Apr 28, 2015 rated it it was ok
I will always read Dan Simmons's books. Hyperion made too much of a believer out of me to abandon him if he writes one that I don't like.

The premise is interesting. Sherlock Holmes is real-ish, and teams with Henry James to stop the crime of the century. There were several things in the book I didn't like.

(1) Winks and nods. There are a lot of winks and nods to the reader, letting us know that Simmons is writing in modern times and guesses what we might be wondering about the universe the chara
Sep 01, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
"I discovered Mr James that I was not a real person. I would a literary person such as yourself put it? I am, the evidence has proven to me most conclusively, a literary construct. Some ink-stained scribbler's creation. A mere fictional character".

The book follows two mysteries with the majority focusing on the suicide or possible murder of Clover Adams. The book then continues as Holmes investigates a potential global anarchist plot to assassinate key political figures and cause mass u
Beau North
Jun 29, 2018 rated it really liked it
4.5 stars for the full tilt boogie extravaganza of weird.

Where do I even start with this book? It’s more dense and layered than a wedding cake, with two men standing on opposite ends of a philosophical conundrum...are we real? There are several actual mysteries that take Holmes and his new friend, Author Henry James, to Washington DC, New York, and all the way to Chicago and the grandeur of the World’s Fair in the White City. James is a reluctant participant in these new adventures, and the ord
Steven Z.
Aug 05, 2015 rated it it was amazing
What does wonderful historical fiction, Sherlock Holmes, Henry James, members of the Adams dynasty, anarchism, and numerous late 19th century historical figures and events add up to? The answer is a marvelous new novel by Dan Simmons, entitled, THE FIFTH HEART. Having just taken in the film, MR. HOLMES I have become fascinated by the character of the “great detective.” In his own mind he seemed to wonder whether he himself was real, or a fictional construct of Arthur Conan Doyle. It really does ...more
Jan 24, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
Where to begin... I couldn't decide on a 4- or 5-star rating, but in the end, I gave this book 5 stars, mostly because it was so much fun to read. Readers who don't like that late Victorian style may not enjoy the book as much; readers who aren't interested in historical or literary digressions may not give the book 5 stars either. However, those who want to embark on an adventure with some of literature's and history's prominent figures will enjoy this book. The thing I love about Dan Simmons's ...more
This book was an incredible struggle to get through. Simmons wordiness got the better of me time and again, and I spent way too much time either wishing he would stop making his characters repeat themselves, or get on with the fricken storyline and stop describing unnecessary things. So much so that I would miss large sections of the novel, not paying attention. And sometimes I didn’t care enough to rewind and relisten.
What would have been a great novel was, in my opinion, rather boring througho
Sep 12, 2017 rated it really liked it
Okay, I guess that five-star rating was a little impulsive last night, when I finished reading. I was impressed by the ending, which I felt was five-star material. But this morning, having slept on it, and reflecting back on the past two weeks as a whole, I'm going to update this as being 4 (to 4.5) stars.

I truly feel that this was a masterpiece, being well researched and intricately plotted, and brought me back into the late 1800's. This was an awesome experience, and has totally piqued my in
Mar 29, 2015 rated it really liked it
Well ill start off by saying i love all things Sherlock Holmes.He is one of my favorite literary characters of all time.Dan Simmons did justice to the great detectives character.He captured the mannerisms and setting of the traditional Sherlock Holmes stories that Sir Arthur Conan Doyle brilliantly penned.The plot certainly moved at a very sedate pace.Their were spots that although were not exciting still remained interesting.Several historical characters came into play Mark Twain,Teddy Roosevel ...more
Kevin Parsons
Jan 23, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Simmons throws everything but the kitchen sink into this one. You have to hand it to him - he is not afraid to try anything and more often than not it works.
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
Plot summary 1 3 Mar 07, 2018 07:38PM  
Who killed Daisy Adams? 2 8 Mar 07, 2018 07:12PM  
Laurie R. King Vi...: This topic has been closed to new comments. The Fifth Heart by Dan Simmons - VBC January 2016 79 54 Feb 01, 2016 02:41PM  

Readers also enjoyed

  • Best Ghost Stories of J.S. Le Fanu
  • The Last Bookaneer
  • The Devil’s Due
  • In the Wake of Madness: The Murderous Voyage of the Whaleship Sharon
  • The Science of Sci-Fi: From Warp Speed to Interstellar Travel
  • The Letters to Timothy, Titus, and Philemon
  • River of Darkness: Francisco Orellana's Legendary Voyage of Death and Discovery Down the Amazon
  • Lobo's Back's Back!
  • The Lords of Creation (Superluminary #1)
  • The Exiles
  • Unquiet Spirits: Whisky, Ghosts, Murder
  • The Song of Hiawatha
  • House of Teeth
  • Bury the Lede
  • Ложится мгла на старые ступени. Роман-идиллия
  • Far North
  • Intercepts
  • Dust and Shadow: An Account of the Ripper Killings by Dr. John H. Watson
See similar books…
Dan Simmons grew up in various cities and small towns in the Midwest, including Brimfield, Illinois, which was the source of his fictional "Elm Haven" in 1991's SUMMER OF NIGHT and 2002's A WINTER HAUNTING. Dan received a B.A. in English from Wabash College in 1970, winning a national Phi Beta Kappa Award during his senior year for excellence in fiction, journalism and art.

Dan received his Master

Articles featuring this book

His Favorite Fiction About Historical Characters: Fact and fiction blend in these recs from the author of the new mystery The Fifth Heart, starring...
26 likes · 6 comments
“The strongest beings are those who sing themselves into existence.” 4 likes
“Holmes smiled tightly. “I discovered, Mr. James,” he said as he leaned closer, “that I was not a real person. I am…how would a literary person such as yourself put it? I am, the evidence has proven to me most conclusively, a literary construct. Some ink-stained scribbler’s creation. A mere fictional character.” 4 likes
More quotes…