Sunday, 9 October 2011

The Dante Club Matthew Pearl Novel Review

The Dante Club is an interesting mystery novel where a group of poets try to solve the mystery behind a series of gruesome murders.It is a debut historical mystery novel by Matthew Pearl.Here the background is Boston of 1865.A group of poets which consists of Longfellow,Holmes,Lowell and Greene(called fireside poets) want to bring to the American public,English translation of  Italian poet Dante's divine comedy.But Augustus Manning,treasurer of Harvard fears that the excessive violence in Dante's poetry will bring chaos into the society so try to dissuade the poets from this task.But they are determined to complete this task since they feel that they have an obligation towards American public who should be made aware of the  beauty of Dante's poetry.Then a series of gruesome murders occur where the victims are tortured and to their horror they find parallels to their work about Dante and these murders.The novel takes you through the stages where the poets assume the role of investigators and try to unravel the identity of the sadistic,unhinged serial killer.

The basic premise of making real life literary heavyweights to be the detectives them self is an interesting concept,but which can fall apart if not executed properly.In that sense I will say Pearl has come out with flying colors.One can see that Pearl is in awe of these literary figures and has done his research well to make it seem real and authentic.He has succeeded in recreating the Boston of 1865 and its history convincingly so that even a lay person who is not well versed in the history aspect will find the mystery aspect interesting and would love to know more about the fireside poets,Dante and the civil war which all served as the background of that period. The book is a page turner and keep your attention throughout.At the same time Pearl is able to give a depth to the main characters where one see the poet's burning passion for their work,their dedication to see their work come to fruition,but at the same time their compassion for the victims,their acceptance of coming in terms with the destruction of human life on wake of their work ,all these conflicting emotions captured in excellent writing for most of the part which can be considered to be of high literary quality. 

My Rating: GOOD

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