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Drood
By Dan Simmons
Read by Simon Prebble

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Drood

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Drood
By Dan Simmons
Read by Simon Prebble
Hachette Audio, (2009)
An Abridged Recording on 9 CDs
ISBN: 978-1-60024-463-6
Genre: Mystery


Reviewed by Auggie Moore - March 13, 2009

Drood is the chilling tale based upon Charles Dickens's real-life obsession with Edwin Drood, an obsession that he shared with fellow writer Wilkie Collins. Interweaving fact and fantasy, Dan Simmons explores what is known about the mysterious Edwin Drood and how this character became so entwined within the life and writings of two of the most respected Victorian mystery writers.

In the process of exploring the mystery surrounding Drood and his origins, Simmons also examines the juxtaposition of friendship and enmity that existed between Dickens and Collins. Always as odds with each other, the two men shared an unusual bond, yet still saw each other as literary rivals. They also viewed each other as socially unrelated because while Collins lived openly with his mistress, among his lesser misdeeds, Dickens followed a more conventual, and socially acceptable path, by keeping his mistress and other affairs, secret.

Drood is part ghost story, part biography, and from beginning to end a gripping mystery veiled in the midst of time and two men's compulsion to put a face to a man who may or may not have been a mass murderer - assuming he ever existed to begin with! This fictionalized account of the Drood story begins with the near fatal train accident at which Dickens first met Drood. The story is narrated by Wilkie Collins, who was in real life a laudanum (tincture of opium) addict, and Simmons regularly has his narrator speak while under the grip of this soporific, making the story flow a bit unevenly at times. This all just adds to the tension and rich flavor of this unforgettable mystery/thriller. Within the course of this story, which chronicles the last five years of Dickens's life, Simmons also provides some keen insights into why Dickens never finished, The Mystery of Edwin Drood.

Drood is an ingenious tale that can just as easily be classified as a horror story, rather than a mystery. There are many horror elements in this tale - including trips down into crypts, forays into dark and dirty slums, a rotting corpse or two, nighttime visits to cemeteries, and a glimpse into the Egyptian Underworld. Yet at its heart it is a pure mystery, one that is infused with facts drawn directly from Dickens's life. Drood is a must read, or listen, for not only fans of Simmons's work, but also for anyone interested spending a few hours exploring Dickens's dark and mysterious world that was haunted by the specter known to him by the name of Edwin Drood.

This audio edition of Drood is read by Simon Prebble, a British voice actor who expertly animates this compelling story. This audio edition is further enhanced by the inclusion of The Signal-Man, a haunting short story by Charles Dickens.


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