Dawn in London’s public gardens. The January wind is fierce. A hunchback slowly plods along. Then there is a loud crack and he falls to the ground. A crowd begins to gather, and then notices that the man was not a hunchback. Instead, a stone, a very large stone, circles his neck and the pressure caused it to snap. On the stone is an inscription in Latin. Five years ago Boston was the scene of several Dante inspired murders, and when another murder seems to be linked to Dante’s “Purgatory”, Scotland Yard begins to wonder about a possible connection. The poet Christina Rossetti also wonders about a connection. Her brother, the strange, obsessed, artist and writer, Dante Gabriel Rossetti, has disappeared. Is he is connected to the murders? Is his life is in danger? She needs help deciphering the literary clues she has found and enlists her friends, Robert Browning and Alfred Tennyson and Dr. Oliver Wendell Holmes. As he did in The Dante Club, Matthew Pearl, mixes real people into his fiction. And he does it so well. The four writers’ personalities are complex, interesting. The plot takes many unexpected turns and sucks the reader down into the London of the mid-nineteenth century. The suspense builds, and the book could not be put down.
eGalley Review Publication date 6.5.18