My rating: 3 of 5 stars
From time to time, I like to revisit the classics. In 1870, Charles Dickens died from a stroke in the middle of writing The Mystery of Edwin Drood. The book was never finished, and there weren’t a lot of details in any notes or conversations for anyone to fully know his intentions for the ending. Readers were left with an open-ended story and have to decide for themselves. Years ago, the book was converted to a script and performed on Broadway. I meant to buy tickets but got distracted and never attended the show. A friend of mine, Medhat, had it on his list to read, so we decided to share a buddy read again this month.
The classics can be absolutely amazing and utterly dull. I was a literature major and have read hundreds of them, so I am allowed to admit it. LOL In truth, I will always find something I like about a book… and that was my approach to this novel. I adored Great Expectations and A Christmas Carol, which gave me a good feeling about this one since I also adore mysteries. Unfortunately, it didn’t register very high and left me slightly bewildered. Not because of the lack of a conclusion, but due to the style it was written in.
At many points, I saw where Agatha Christie might have gotten some inspiration. I also liked how the story unraveled various plots with scenes that, as isolated events, were quite strong. Unfortunately, too many characters were introduced in odd ways with different names (not because it was a draft work but because people had nicknames or alternative ways of referring to people they didn’t actually know in person). One of the other areas that bugged me a bit was the difference in Dickens’ style in this book. I slipped back into 19th century dialog and prose, but there was an excess of description at times when it wasn’t necessary. It slowed the story to the point I had to put it down and come back just to give myself a break.
That said, it was written well in terms of language and vision. I could tell where Dickens was going with the story, and maybe if I hadn’t read over 500 other mystery books in the last decade, I might have been more intrigued. I recognize why he was a great writer, and I applaud many of the sections that clearly showed his prowess (the hidden words when Jasper was trying to find out who killed Drood, the appearance in the last available chapter of a character we didn’t expect to see, the way in which a man expressed his love for a woman he was attracted to).
Considering all these things, I end up at an average 3 stars on this one. I wouldn’t recommend it for anyone who wants to start a Dickens’ novel, and I wouldn’t rate it high for cleverness in a mystery (accounting for its lack of an ending). I would suggest that it could help writers understand when and how to deliver emotion and subtlety in a scene. I’d also highlight the strong ability the author has to transport you to a physical setting. I’m looking forward to Medhat’s review this week!
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For those new to me or my reviews… here’s the scoop: I’m Jay, an author who lives in NYC. My stand-alone novels, Watching Glass Shatter and Father Figure, can be purchased on Amazon as electronic copies or physical copies. My clever book series, Braxton Campus Mysteries, will fit those who love cozy mysteries and crime investigations but with a twist. There are six books: Academic Curveball, Broken Heart Attack, Flower Power Trip, Mistaken Identity Crisis, Haunted House Ghost, and Frozen Stiff Drink. I read, write, and blog A LOT on this site where you can also find all my social media profiles to get the details on the who/what/when/where and my pictures. Leave a comment and let me know what you think. Thanks for stopping by. Note: All written content is my original creation and copyrighted to me, but the graphics and images were linked from other sites and belong to them. Many thanks to their original creators. Follow my blog with Bloglovin.