The Dante chamber

Matthew Pearl

Book - 2018

"The year is 1870. Five years after a series of Dante-inspired killings disrupted Boston, a man is found murdered in the public gardens of London with an enormous stone around his neck etched with a verse from the Divine Comedy. When more mysterious murders erupt across the city, all in the style of the punishments Dante memorialized in Purgatory, poet Christina Rossetti fears her brother, the Dante-obsessed artist and writer Gabriel Rossetti, will be the next victim. Christina enlists poets Robert Browning and Alfred Tennyson, and famous scholar Dr. Oliver Wendell Holmes, to assist in deciphering the literary clues. Together these unlikely investigators rush to unravel the secrets of Dante's verses in order to find Gabriel and st...op the killings. Racing between the shimmering mansions of the elite and the dark corners of London's underworld, they descend further and further into the mystery. But when the true inspiration behind the gruesome murders is finally revealed, Christina realizes that the perpetrator has even bigger and more horrific plans than she had initially thought"--

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Mystery fiction
Historical fiction
Detective and mystery fiction
New York : Penguin Press 2018.
Main Author
Matthew Pearl (author)
Physical Description
357 pages ; 25 cm
Contents unavailable.
Review by New York Times Review

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Copyright (c) The New York Times Company [August 30, 2019]
Review by Booklist Review

Devotees of high-end thrillers steeped in literary history have been awaiting Pearl's follow-up to The Dante Game (2002) for many years, and here it is. Once again, Pearl weaves an elaborate tale from the fevered imagination of Dante Alighieri, this time drawing on The Purgatorio, the second part of TheDivine Comedy. Unfathomably horrific murders are taking place in 1870 London, and, as was the case in Boston five years earlier, it will take a band of poets turned sleuths to figure out what's happening. Oliver Wendell Holmes is the only Dante Game player to turn up again, with Robert Browning, Alfred Tennyson, and Christina Rossetti rounding out the gang of poets on the case, which begins with trying to find Christina's brother and fellow poet Dante Gabriel Rossetti, who is soon identified as the chief suspect in a string of deaths that mimic the penances required by the denizens of Dante's purgatory. The plot here is perhaps even more complex than that of The Dante Game, but the sleuths lack some of the charisma of their American counterparts (especially Longfellow). Still, Pearl again does a stunning job of transforming Dante into brilliantly staged crime fiction. HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: Literary-fiction book clubbers who like to dabble in thrillers will be palpitating at another chance to mix Dante and murder.--Ott, Bill Copyright 2018 Booklist

From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Review by Publisher's Weekly Review

Pearl continues his successful run of intricate literary mysteries featuring famous literary works and real historical literary figures (The Dante Club, The Last Bookaneer) with this complex murder mystery set in London in 1870. Real-life 19th-century poet Christina Rossetti's brother, Dante Gabriel Rossetti, an expert on Dante's Divine Comedy, is missing, and she is worried. After several gruesome murders occur, each with a chilling connection to the punishments detailed in the seven terraces of Dante's Purgatory, she fears Gabriel will be the next victim. The police, meanwhile, think Gabriel is the killer. Christina teams up with fellow poets Robert Browning, Alfred Tennyson, and Oliver Wendell Holmes to find Gabriel and solve the murders, not realizing that one of the famous poets is a police informant and Scotland Yard already knows more than it lets on. The poets are naive and unskilled detectives boldly challenging London's criminal underworld and a diabolical mastermind. Their investigation leads to opium smuggling, bomb-throwing Irish Fenians, and a strange Dante-worshipping cult. Pearl is a brilliant storyteller, vividly portraying London's literary arts scene and the city's fear and fascination with the occult and a serial killer. Pearl's fans, and fans of historical thrillers, are in for a treat. (June) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

Review by Library Journal Review

Here, Pearl returns to the setting of his debut novel, The Dante Club. Five years have passed since the series of horrific murders in Boston, and similar events are happening in London. Christina Rossetti isn't aware of them at first, being deeply troubled by the disappearance of her brother Dante Gabriel. His erratic behavior and unhealthy fixation with Italian poet Dante Alighieri has everyone concerned, especially with the spate of strange deaths based on the "Purgatory" cantica of the Divine Comedy. While visiting from Boston, Oliver Wendell Holmes gets drawn into the search, as does Robert Browning and Alfred Tennyson. Can this quartet of gifted poets find Dante and stop the killer from striking again? VERDICT Pearl uses his literary knowledge to excellent effect as he crafts a sinister tale of obsession and manipulation. This should appeal to fans of Victorian murder mysteries, such as those by Alex Grecian or Anne Perry, and poetry enthusiasts who will enjoy seeing these well-known lyricists come to life. [See Prepub Alert, 12/11/17.]-Laurel Bliss, San Diego State Univ. Lib. © Copyright 2018. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Review by Kirkus Book Review

This well-wrought sequel of sorts to The Dante Club (2002) shifts the action to England and another set of literary lights who seek to solve crimes tied to The Divine Comedy.In late 1869, around the time a British member of Parliament dies under the crushing weight of a large stone on which a Latin message is written, the poet Christina Rossetti has an "ominous foreboding" about her missing brother, the erratic artist Dante Gabriel Rossetti. She, Robert Browning, and William Rossetti (another brother) seek clues at Gabriel's London home, which he shares with a monkey, a raccoon, and other nonwriting animals. The humans recognize links between the MP's death and punishments in Dante's "Purgatory." They will be joined in their probe by Alfred Tennyson and Oliver Wendell Holmes, visiting from Boston, and bothered by the well-read Scotland Yard Detective Adolphus "Dolly" Williamson, who has trouble with the Fenians but is more intrigued by the Dante killing. Soon it's killings, starting with an opera singer whose eyes are sewn shut before she's bizarrely impaled. While the literati grow concerned that Gabriel is involved in the deaths, an ex-Pinkerton operative arrives in England to try to capitalize on the crimes the way he did with those in Boston that Pearl (The Last Bookaneer, 2015, etc.) described in The Dante Club. Displaying extensive knowledge of the period and the writers, Pearl builds an intricate, well-layered plot. His addition of Holmes, one of the previous book's main players, supplies a bridge between the U.S. and U.K. Dantean crimes. The language has nice period touches but overall is less overdone than in Pearl's past. And his focus on Christina among several imposing male writers makes narrative sense but is also a refreshing choice and produces a complex, appealing character.A thoroughly entertaining excursion to the literary England of the late 19th century with some ink-stained amateur detectives. Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.