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

The Last Dickens

3.57  ·  Rating details ·  6,438 ratings  ·  830 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)
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 Last Dickens, please sign up.
Popular Answered Questions
This answer contains spoilers… (view spoiler)

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
3.57  · 
Rating details
 ·  6,438 ratings  ·  830 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Sep 02, 2009 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
Simona Bartolotta

“Looking around, it seemed every character from every Dickens novel, aristocrat and common, pompous and inconspicuous, had come to life...”

The Last Dickens by Matthew Pearl is an entertaining novel and a treat for Dickens fanatics such as myself. As much as I enjoyed myself, however, I think that I would have appreciated the book more if I hadn't already read and reread and loved The D. Case or The Truth About The Mystery Of Edwin Drood by Fruttero and Lucentini. The aims of these two work
The first book I read of Matthew Peal was the Last Bookaneer, a later publication to the Last Dickens. I loved the Last Bookaneer so much and expected same competence in this book. But I'm so sorry to say that this book was a disappointment. I loved the information given in the book relating to Charles Dicken which in fact gave me a new awareness and new perspective regarding the renowned author. I thank Mr. Pearl for that. But the main plot was so disturbed with some incidental, I would say irr ...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
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.
Jan 09, 2011 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
Mar 27, 2011 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
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
Ann Sloan
Jul 31, 2013 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
Jan 10, 2019 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
DNF @37%

I’m still not very good at DNFing books I don’t like because I’m usually the type to push through even when I don’t like something. I’m hoping 2019 brings a stronger Eden who is able to say no and BE OKAY WITH IT.

The summary of this book sounds fantastic. Mystery concerning a book and the writing community? Count me in! Or not… I did like the idea of this book and how history was used. I honestly don’t know a lot about Charles Dickens and have only read part of Oliver Twist, so learning
Stephen Arvidson
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
Mar 05, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A friend pressed this book into my hands as we headed out his door on the way to a week at the beach, and I loved it! Pearl imagines what Dickens' intent for the unfinished Mystery of Edwin Drood might have been, and how one intrepid American publisher, a historical figure, might have gone about discovering it. Filled with wit and imagination, playful language, Dickensian characters and Victorian drama, set in Boston, London, and elsewhere. Not the same Dickens as in the recent movie, The Man Wh ...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
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
Feb 09, 2017 rated it really liked it
Pearl packs so much in one of his novels--tons of research, several plot lines and tons of description. The only complaint I have with his novels is probably one of age: when I pick up the book after a day away, I forget who was who, or where they were, or what decade it is. It's easily remedied by re-reading a page or 2, but it's always good to read one of his books in as few sittings as possible.

I haven't read much Dickens. I have another historical novel Girl in a Blue Dress in my TBR list b
May 05, 2009 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
Feb 13, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: review, press-copy
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
Dec 11, 2011 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
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
Gilbert G.
Sep 27, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Matthew Pearl is INCREDIBLE
May 22, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is great companion book to Simmons's "Drood". Five stars all around.
Dec 29, 2009 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
Jun 01, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, historical
3.5 Stars from me. This was an interesting read providing a fictitious ending to the fiction novel "The Mystery of Edwin Drood" by Charles Dickens that the author left unfinished at his death. I liked the hypothesis that was proposed here, and I found this book more intriguing than most of Charles Dickens' work. [I'm NOT a fan and don't believe he is the greatest English writer ever. Not by a longshot, but I digress...]

This book flowed well and provided a curious tale as the publisher and his b
I’m about a third of the way through this book and it’s one I can’t wait to finish. As we all know, Dickens first published in chapters of a novel in the newspaper and then published the entire book. This novel has Dickens dying as he’s in the midst of a story. The last section he wrote was sent to Boston from England and subsequently stolen. The tale continues from there with not-so-nice things to say about New York publishers. The Boston publisher who receives Dickens chapters goes to England ...more
Aug 31, 2009 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.
Steve Smits
Oct 28, 2013 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
Jeff Jellets
Jan 01, 2013 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
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
Dec 31, 2011 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
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
Literary Adventure : The Last Dickens 1 7 Apr 10, 2014 04:09PM  
Hampden B.A.G.: Questions 1 14 Dec 07, 2011 01:25PM  
Hampden B.A.G.: Thoughts while reading (NO SPOILERS!) 1 11 Dec 07, 2011 01:23PM  

Readers also enjoyed

  • The Minutes of the Lazarus Club
  • The Pale Blue Eye
  • The Devil's Company (Benjamin Weaver #3)
  • The Anatomy of Deception
  • Drood
  • The Library of Shadows
  • La reina oculta
  • Kept
  • The Glory Cloak: A Novel of Louisa May Alcott and Clara Barton
  • La rosa di Alessandria (Pepe Carvalho, #7)
  • A Flaw in the Blood
  • Stone's Fall
  • Grace Hammer : a Novel of the Victorian Underworld
  • Ex-Libris
  • Mientras vivimos
  • What Alice Knew: A Most Curious Tale of Henry James & Jack the Ripper
  • The Blackest Bird
  • Voyage Along the Horizon
See similar books…
Note from the author:Hi everyone. My newest novel is The Dante Chamber, out May 29, 2018. It's a follow-up to my debut novel, The Dante Club, but you do not have to read one before the other, each stands on its own two feet. Hope you'll enjoy any of books you choose to pick up.

Matthew Pearl's novels have been international and New York Times bestsellers translated into more than 30 languages. His
“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?” 5 likes
“The books do pretend, Mr. Branagan. Surely. But that is not all. Novels are filled with lies, 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?” 2 likes
More quotes…