The Dante Club

  • by Matthew Pearl
  • Narrated by John Siedman
  • 14 hrs and 23 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

Words can bleed.In 1865 Boston, the members of the Dante Club, poets and Harvard professors Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Dr. Oliver Wendell Holmes, and James Russell Lowell, along with publisher J. T. Fields, are finishing America's first translation of The Divine Comedy and preparing to unveil Dante's remarkable visions to the New World. The powerful Boston Brahmins at Harvard are fighting to keep Dante in obscurity, believing that the infiltration of foreign superstitions onto American bookshelves will prove as corrupting as the immigrants living in Boston Harbor.As they struggle to keep their sacred literary cause alive, the plans of the Dante Club are put in further jeopardy when a serial killer unleashes his terror on the city. Only the scholars realize that the gruesome murders are modeled on the descriptions from Dante's Inferno and its account of Hell's torturous punishments. With the lives of the Boston elite and Dante's literary future in America at stake, the Dante Club must find the killer before the authorities discover their secret.Dr. Oliver Wendell Holmes and outcast police officer Nicolas Rey, the first black member of the Boston police department, place their careers on the line in their efforts to end the killing spree. Together, they discover that the source of the murders lies closer than they ever could have imagined.The Dante Club is a magnificent blend of fact and fiction, a brilliantly realized paean to Dante, his mythic genius, and his continued grip on the imagination.

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What the Critics Say

"Expertly weaving period detail, historical fact (the Dante Club did indeed exist), complex character studies, and nail-biting suspense, Pearl has written a unique and utterly absorbing tale." (Booklist, Starred Review)
"Absorbing and dramatic...Pearl has proven himself a master." (Library Journal)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

Fun, if a little long-winded

I thought this book was quite ambitious, and fairly successful at what it sets out to accomplish. Having Longfellow, Oliver Wendell Holmes (senior), and James Russell Lowell fictionalized into a sort of League of Extraordinarily Literary Gentleman who hunt down a serial killer is getting to be almost old hat, going back to "The Seven-Percent Solution" in the 1970s. This may be the last entry into the genre which I find entertaining. The story is more than a little contrived, but not outlandish or unrespectable. The famous characters are well-researched and presented with sensitivity and affection, although the anachronisms fly off the page (and into the ear). This is no "Seven-Percent", but it's also ten times better than anything Caleb Carr has ever written. I look forward to seeing what Matthew Pearl comes out with next time.
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- Barbara

highbrow suspense

I'm sorry to say that I have never read Dante. "The Dante Club" was a good intro - at least now when I come across references to "The Inferno" as one does frequently in literature, I will be familiar with the allusion. The narrator was excellent, (it's always a relief to have someone other than Scott Brick doing the reading.) The characters were vividly drawn and the story was exciting and suspenseful. The ending was satisfying in that it was surprising and believable. I will definitely download more books written by Mathew Pearl and books narrated by Boyd Gaines.
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- Pattio

Book Details

  • Release Date: 05-25-2006
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster Audio