The Dante Club by Matthew Pearl

Another historical thriller (am such a sucker for these!)

The Dante Club is about a series of grisly murders committed at the same time Dante Alighieri’s Inferno was being translated into English by a group of prominent New England literary figures, namely Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, James Russell Lowell, Oliver Wendell Holmes, George Washington Greene, and JT Fields (the group is known as The Dante Club, hence the title).

The murders are patterned after the different circles of hell in Dante’s Inferno, and the Dante Club must figure out who is behind the dastardly deeds or else lose the chance to introduce the writings of Dante Alighieri to America before they complete their translation.

I discovered this book a few years ago, when I interviewed Ces Drilon and she recommended it to me. The writing is old-fashioned and dragging at times, or maybe it’s because male authors focus on different (er, boring) things.

I also wish I’d waited for my schedule to free up before actually plunging into the novel because it’s the type that’s best for uninterrupted reading. Except I also had to stop reading it at night because given that the “Lucifer” (aka, serial killer) was patterning his murders after the circles of hell, it got pretty scary.

Canticle Three (it’s divided into Canticles), is particularly exciting, but I’ll have to stop now before I say anything more. Bottomline, it’s a good blend of fact and fiction, one that will keep you on your toes.

I still have to read The Poe Shadow, I have the hardback on my to-be-read shelf…

My copy: mass market paperback bought at Powerbooks, upgraded into a trade paperback mooched from the US (or was it Canada? I forget…)

My rating: 3/5 stars