“The Mystery of Edwin Drood” by Charles Dickens
“The Mystery of Edwin Drood” is kind of a hot mess. Granted, the amazing Mr. Charles Dickens died before he could finish (and I presume edit) the book, so really he can’t be blamed for it. Who knows what the book would have been like once completed and revised?
As it stands, “The Mystery of Edwin Drood” is a wacky whodunit laced with all the colorful (and colorfully named characters) one expects from Mr. Dickens – who’s 200th birthday is being celebrated this very year. Never has there been an author who seemed to delight so greatly in the naming of characters – and “…Drood” boasts Princess Puffer, Rosa Bud, Mr. Crisparkle, John Jasper, Neville and Helena Landless, and Durdles, as well as a few others.
The young Edwin Drood is to be married to the young and lovely Rosa Bud. Edwin is devoted to his uncle, John Jasper, who also has his eye on Miss Bud. Into the mix come a brother/sister duo, the hot-headed brother of which has eyes for Miss Rosa. A whole bunch of stuff happens, and Edwin Drood mysteriously vanishes. Jasper suspects the hot-headed brother, to such an extent that the suspect is ostracized.
The edition of the novel I read was courtesy of Project Gutenberg, and ends in the middle of a conversation with no real realizations.
I don’t like leaving things hanging, so I hit the internet…Wikipedia is full of theories about who did what exactly.
*Spoilers Ahead, Folks* Having read the book, and gone through the research folks have done on the book, I’m with most people in thinking that Jasper actually did it – killed Edwin, I mean. He’s a shady character, in love with his nephew’s fiancee, asking about ways to hasten the decompistion of a body…Shady dealings. Heck, even Princess Puffer (she who runs an opium den) suspects Jasper. That’s good enough for me.
“The Mystery of Edwin Drood” doesn’t hold a candle to “Great Expectations,” as far as I’m concerned, but it’s still an interesting piece of literature – and worth reading for anyone and everyone who loves Charles Dickens and his world of wonderful names and English scoundrels.
P.S. This factoid made me smile.
In 1873, a young Vermont printer, Thomas James, published a version which he claimed had been literally ‘ghost-written’ by him channelling Dickens’ spirit. A sensation was created, with several critics, including Arthur Conan Doyle, a spiritualist himself, praising this version, calling it similar in style to Dickens’ work and for several decades the ‘James version’ of Edwin Drood was common in America.