The Last Chapter
If ever there was a book that made you want to go back and read or re-read all of Charles Dickens classics, The Last Chapter by Lyn Squire is it. The story opens with the famed author struggling to get his final words to his latest piece of work The Mystery of Edwin Drood. Or at least that is what readers are led to believe. In truth, the author has realized he has been poisoned and is trying in vain to pen his final message to the world. His ever faithful housemaid Georgina works to cover up his assumed murder and employees the help of the well-meaning but often daft nephew of Charles Dickens, Dunston Burnett. She confides her theory of how she believes his uncle was murdered to only him. Georgina implores Dunston to utilize the hidden final three chapters of the book and the initial three to discover who murdered Charles Dickens. Eager to be of service, Dunston takes on the job and scours the pages as well as the people closest to his uncle to solve this mystery. The deeper Dunston digs, the more questions he comes across. When the characters and readers think the mystery has finally been solved, a whole new mystery develops before their eyes. Vagrants, lovers, hidden letters and more keep the readers hooked until the very last page when the true conclusion to all that was hidden is finally revealed.
Squires approach to this book is absolutely brilliant. As you begin the book readers are lead to believe it is a mystery where there is a slew of obvious charactersone of whom one will be revealed as the villain. However, Squire takes the story one step farther and adds an additional mystery closely linked to the initial mystery. His ability to not only link the two story lineswhich could have been two separate books easilyand blend the characters and clues to lead readers through a maze of not only who did the crime, but question their motives and identities. His reference to many of Dickens works throughout the novel and secrets they may hold made me, and I am sure will make others, want to read them again and look for clues, true or fictional, that were missed. This book is definitely a delightful and intriguing surprise and must not be missed!