I first learned of the book Drood by Dan Simmons when Amazon.com recommended it to me. I read the description and immediately HAD to have this book. The below summary is quoted from Publishers Weekly:
“Bestseller Simmons (The Terror) brilliantly imagines a terrifying sequence of events as the inspiration for Dickens's last, uncompleted novel, The Mystery of Edwin Drood, in this unsettling and complex thriller. In the course of narrowly escaping death in an 1865 train wreck and trying to rescue fellow passengers, Dickens encounters a ghoulish figure named Drood, who had apparently been traveling in a coffin. Along with his real-life novelist friend Wilkie Collins, who narrates the tale, Dickens pursues the elusive Drood, an effort that leads the pair to a nightmarish world beneath London's streets. Collins begins to wonder whether the object of their quest, if indeed the man exists, is merely a cover for his colleague's own murderous inclinations.”
Are you serious? A mystery about two of the all-time great writers and based in part on actual historic events which inspired Dicken’s novel about Edwin Drood. What’s not to like here? I ordered the hardcover on the spot.
Unfortunately, I was a bit disappointed. The idea was interesting. The opium-addicted Wilkie Collins narration was brilliant and funny. The historic detail was well researched and spot on. The complex relationship between the authors were insightful. The scenes in the London sewers and opium dens were creepy as hell. So, why didn’t I enjoy reading this book more than I did? I’ve given this a lot of thought and I think this was a situation where the editor should have exercised more control over the project. It’s not just that the book was long… it was the fact that your could have cut 50-75 pages without losing anything. Several times I sat this book aside to read other things and procrastinated getting back to it. If any of you know me at all, you would know how unlike me that is. Finishing the book had almost become a chore, rather than enjoyable recreation.
For those who are Dickens’ fans, this novel should be interesting enough to hold your attention. However, if you have not read several of Dickens’ books (especially Bleak House), you may get bored with all of the literary references. Overall, I would say that Drood has some incredible things going for it, it just takes some commitment to actually read.
Plot – 1 ½ bookmarks (too slow)
Literary Merit – 2 bookmarks (without further edits), 4 1/2 bookmarks possible if tightened up.
Character Development – 3 ½ bookmarks
Creepy Factor – 2 ½ bookmarks
Historical Detail – 4 ½ bookmarks
Dream Cast (otherwise known as who I pictured while reading) – Paul Giamatti (Wilkie Collins), Anthony Hopkins (Charles Dickens), The tall creepy dude who was on the TV show Moonlighting in the 80’s (Drood)