Tag Archives: mystery

Book Review: The Dante Club by Matthew Pearl

the dante club

3/5

The Dante Club is a historical fiction novel set in Boston after the Revolutionary War. This bustling city has been jolted to a screeching halt when one of the men of higher standing is brutally murdered. Judge Healy was due to be away from his home. His wife was expecting him to be away from home for four days. A few days after the Judge left his maid noticed a swarm of red eyed flies buzzing around a particular window. She followed the swarm of flies to the naked body of Judge Healy. His head had been busted in and was covered in a maggots, flies, and wasps. The Boston police are completely baffled at the gruesome murder.

It isn’t until another man of higher standing is brutally murdered that the five members of the Dante Club become involved. The Dante Club consists of five members; each member is called by their last name throughout the novel: Longfellow a poet and a professor at Harvard, Lowell a writer and a professor at Harvard, Howell, a doctor and writer, Fields, a publisher, and Green, a doctor. Longfellow started the group for the purpose of translating Dante’s Inferno from Italian into English. Each week he and the other members take one canto of the poem at a time to interpret. When the group gets word of the murders they realize in horror that the murders are exact copies of the horrors that they translate from Inferno. In order to make sure that the murders aren’t traced back to the innocent Club, the members take it upon themselves to try and find the murderer.

Although the identity of the murderer comes as a complete surprise, the novel itself has a lot of ‘filler’ pages; a series of background information that didn’t necessary pertain to the main plot and was only inserted to make the novel longer. The dialogue was also a bit repetitive. The Dante Club members talk to each other by using the phrase, “my dear Longfellow, etc”.

There is a reader’s guide section in the back of the novel where Matthew Pearl answers some questions about his work. One of the questions brings up the gruesomeness of the novel’s murders. For some readers who aren’t familiar with Dante’s Inferno, but there are a lot of gory scenes depicting hellish scenes as the main character descends further into Hell. In my senior year of high school, I did read parts of Inferno so I was familiar with some of the torture that would have been featured in the novel. Those who aren’t familiar with Dante’s Inferno may find the murders in The Dante Club extremely disturbing.

Fall Into Reading–Book Haul

Summer has faded away. Fall has officially started here in Pennsylvania. The leaves have started to change color before they fall from the branches. Tis the season of sweater weather, pumpkin flavored everything and library book sales!

Last year I posted my findings at a local library book sale; a tiny stack of books for a small price. Two weeks ago I headed out to the old roller staking rink to spend a few hours walking through the labyrinth of used books. Armed with comfortable shoes and a reusable Target bag I combed through the hundreds of books to take home eight books for less than $10.

Listed below will be a picture of the books I found with the synopsis and the publishing date (does anyone else actively look for the publishing date just to see what year the novel was written? Or is it just a second nature for me since I had to cite so many books for essays in high school and college?). Enjoy my findings and happy reading!

the little book

The Little Book by Selden Edwards—2008

When Wheeler Burden—banking heir, rock idol, baseball hero, bestselling author—suddenly finds himself dislocated in time from 1988 San Francisco to Vienna in the year 1897, he’s arrived at a pivotal moment in history, philosophy, art, and culture. It is a time when the coming twentieth century looms before the world with great promise and peril, and when Vienna is enjoying its magnificent swan song as the epicenter of modern thought and the seat of European intellectual and political life.

But what’s most important to Wheeler from the earliest moments of his arrival are finding an appropriate set of clothes and discovering the identity of the luminous young woman he encounters early in his stay. These simple actions set in motion a series of events that will ultimately reveal the incredible truth at the heart of Wheeler’s adventure and will illuminate the eccentric Burden family’s unrivaled impact on the very course of human history.

the dante club

The Dante Club by Matthew Pearl—2003

Boston 1865. A series of murders, all of them inspired by scenes in Dante’s Inferno. Only an elite group of America’s first Dante scholars—Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Oliver Wendell Holmes, James Russell Lowell, and J.T. Fields—can solve the mystery. With the police baffled, more lives endangered, and Dante’s literary future at stake, the Dante Club must shed its sheltered literary existence and find the killer.

spells

Spells by Aprilynne Pike—2010

“I can’t just storm in and proclaim my intentions. I can’t ‘steal’ you away. I just have to wait and hope that, someday, you’ll ask.” Tamani said.

“And if I don’t?” Laurel said, her voice barely above a whisper.

“Then I guess I’ll be waiting forever.”

Although Laurel has come to accept her true identity as a faerie, she refuses to turn her back on her human like—and especially her boyfriend, David—to return to the faerie world.

But when she is summoned to Avalon, Laurel’s feelings for the charismatic faerie sentry Tamani are undeniable. She is forced to make a choice—a choice that could break her heart.

the library of shadows

The Library of Shadows by Mikkel Birkegaard—2007

Imagine that some people have the power to affect your thoughts and feelings through reading. They can seduce you with amazing stories, conjure up vividly imagined worlds, but also manipulate you into thinking exactly what they want you to.

When Luca Campelli dies a sudden and violent death, his son Jon inherits his second-hand bookshop, Libri di Luca, in Copenhagen. Jon has not seen his father for twenty years, since the mysterious death of his mother.

After Luca’s death is followed by an arson attempt on the shop, Jon is forced to explore his family’s past. Unbeknown to Jon, the bookshop has for years been hiding a remarkable secret. It is the meeting place of a society of booklovers and readers, who have maintained the tradition of immense power passed down from the days of the great library of ancient Alexandria. Now someone is trying to destroy them, and Jon finds he must fight to save himself and his new friends.

la cucina

La Cucina by Lily Prior—2000

Since childhood, Rosa Fiore—daughter of a sultry Sicilian matriarch and her hapless husband—found solace in her family’s kitchen. La Cucina, the heart of the family’s lush estate, was a place where generations of Fiore women prepared sumptuous feasts and where the drama of extended family life was played out around the age-old table.

When Rosa was a teenager, her own cooking become the stuff of legend in this small community that takes pride in the bounty of its landscape and the eccentricity of its inhabitants. Rosa’s infatuation with culinary arts was rivaled only by her passion for a young man, Barolomeo, who, unfortunately, belonged to another. After their love affair ended in tragedy, Rosa retreated first into her kitchen and then into solitude, as a librarian in Palermo. There she stayed for decades, growing corpulent on her succulent dishes, resigned to a loveless life.

Then, one day, she meets the mysterious chef, known only as l’Inglese, whose research on the heritage of Sicilian cuisine leads him to Rosa’s library and into her heart. They share one sublime summer of discovery, during which l’Inglese awakens the power of Rosa’s sensuality, and together they reach new heights of culinary passion. When l’Inglese suddenly vanishes, Rosa returns home to the farm to grieve for the loss of her second love. In the comfort of familiar surroundings, among her growing family, she discovers the truth about her loved ones and finds her life transformed once more by the magic of her cherished Cucina.

leonardo's swans

Leonardo’s Swans by Karen Essex—2006

Isabella d’Este, daughter of the Duke of Ferrara, born into privilege and the political and artistic turbulence of Renaissance Italy, is a stunning black eyed blonde and an art lover and collector. Worldly and ambitious, she has never envied her less attractive sister, the spirited but naïve Beatrice, until, by a quirk of fate, Beatrice is betrothed to the future Duke of Milan. Although he is more than twice their age, openly lives with his mistress, and is reputedly trying to eliminate the current duke by nefarious means, Ludovico Sforza is Isabella’s match in intellect and passion for all things of beauty Only he would allow her to fulfill her destiny; to reign over one of the world’s most powerful and enlightened realms and be immortalized in oil by the genius Leonardo da Vinci. Isabella vows that she will not rest until he wins her true fate, and the two sisters compete for supremacy in the illustrious courts of Europe.

the house of velvet and glass

The House of Velvet and Glass by Katherine Howe—2012

Katherine Howe, author of the phenomenal New York Times bestseller The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane, returns with an entrancing historical novel set in Boston in 1915, where a young woman stands on the cusp of a new century, torn between loss and love, driven to seek answers in the depths of a crystal ball.

Still reeling from the deaths of her mother and sister on the Titanic, Sibyl Allston is living a life of quiet desperation with her taciturn father and scandal-plagued brother in a elegant town house in Boston’s Back Bay. Trapped in a world over which she has no control, Sibyl flees for solace to the parlor of a table-turning medium.

But when her brother is suddenly kicked out of Harvard under mysterious circumstances and falls under the sway of a strange young woman, Sibyl turns for help to psychology professor Benton Derby, despite the unspoken tensions of their shared past. As Benton and Sibyl work together to solve a harrowing mystery, their long simmering spark flares to life, and they realize that there may be something even more magical between them than a medium’s scrying glass.

the mercy falls collection

The Mercy Falls Collection by Colleen Coble—2009, 2010, 2011

The Lightkeeper’s Daughter

A storm brings an injured stranger and a dark secret to Addie Sullivan’s California light house home. The man insists she is not who she thinks she is, but rather the child long lost and feared dead by the wealthy Eaton family.

Addie secures employment in the Eatons’ palatial home, keeping her identify a secret. As dusty rooms and secret compartments give up clues about her past, Addie finds faith and a forever love.

The Lightkeeper’s Bride

Working the phone lines one evening, Katie Russell overhears a chilling exchange between her friend Eliza and a familiar male voice. Katie soon learns that Eliza has disappeared, and the crime may be linked to another investigation headed by the handsome new lighthouse keeping, Will Jesperson. Katie and Will soon form and alliance—an alliance that blossoms into something more.

The Lightkeeper’s Ball

Olivia Stewart is heiress to an empire. Her family numbers among the Four Hundred-those considered the most distinguished in America. But their wealth has evaporated and now their security rests upon Olivia marrying well.

Using her family’s long-forgotten English title, Olivia travels to Mercy Falls, California, as Lady Devonworth. There she plans to marry Harrison Bennett, a wealthy bachelor. Harrison soon falls for her, but it turns out they’ve both been hiding something.