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Author of AGAINST A DARKENING SKY, THE EMPTY ROOM, OUR DAILY BREAD, and others. Find out more at www.LaurenBDavis.com. I read as if my sanity depended upon it.. . . oh, wait, it does! Snort.

The Mystery of Edwin Drood (Penguin Classics)

The Mystery of Edwin Drood - Charles Dickens, David Paroissien Dickens died before he finished it, and the female lead is described in terms that would make any feminist snarl, however, even with those frustrations, it's a heck of a read. Dickens descriptions of the opium addicts alone are worth the book's effort. It's all classic Dickens - the names, "Rosa Bud," (with the unfortunate nickname of "Pussy") "Grewgious," "Rev. Crisparkle," "Durdles," "Dick Datchery," "Princess Puffer" (the opium seller), and a boy known as Deputy who is consistently described as "a hideous boy." There is allusion to class prejudice, as well as racial prejudice, and Dickens' famous sense of injustice is well evident. Suspenseful and at times laugh-out-loud funny, I recommend it. However, if the idea of reading an unfinished novel is discouraging, the intrigued reader can find some hints as to the murderer's identity in the work of Dicken's biographer and friend, John Forster, (The Life of Charles Dickens, 1876 in two volume II: p. 451-452). Forster tells of correspondence he received on the subject from Dickens:"...was to be that of the murder of a nephew by his uncle; the originality of which was to consist in the review of the murderer's career by himself at the close, when its temptations were to be dwelt upon as if, not he the culprit, but some other man, were the tempted. The last chapters were to be written in the condemned cell, to which his wickedness, all elaborately elicited from him as if told of another, had brought him. Discovery by the murderer of the utter needlessness of the murder for its object, was to follow hard upon commission of the deed; but all discovery of the murderer was to be baffled till towards the close, when, by means of a gold ring which had resisted the corrosive effects of the lime into which he had thrown the body, not only the person murdered was to be identified but the locality of the crime and the man who committed it. So much was told to me before any of the book was written; and it will be recollected that the ring, taken by Drood to be given to his betrothed only if their engagement went on, was brought away with him from their last interview. Rosa was to marry Tartar, and Crisparkle the sister of Landless, who was himself, I think, to have perished in assisting Tartar finally to unmask and seize the murderer."