Matthew Pearl, author of The Dante Club, The Poe Shadow, and The Last Dickens, announced the February 2012 release of his fourth novel, The Technologists!
Here's my take on his debut novel, The Dante Club:
First, as an avid Civil War enthusiast, it was great fun to take a break from my usual diet of non-fiction to read a really good story with characters and events from the Civil War era. A few people have complained in other reviews about mistakes in fact, as far as the War goes - I did find a few as well, but i don't think they detract from the story and certainly wouldn't be caught by the general public. Most important, I really appreciated the importance Pearl seemed to place on male friendship - especially among the members of "The Club" - it really seems to be lacking in today's society and in today's writing. Whether the emphasis was purposeful or not, it was a nice departure from the post-modern sensibility of individualism that seems to crowd most of today's works.
...and of The Poe Shadow:
I will readily admit that it is not as good as The Dante Club but it's still a very enjoyable read. The characters are wonderful and his "experiment" in using a fictional character to describe a historical mystery (rather than in The Dante Club where real-life characters solved a fictional mystery) was a great premise. Personally, I think the plot of overseas politics was silly and he'd been much better to use the device of the local slave traders even more. In the paperback version with the author interview, they consider whether there is any of Matthew Pearl in the main character...perhaps so...I also think there is some Edgar Poe in Matthew Pearl: he has kindly and enthusiastically answered personal correpsondence (read the book and you'll understand!)
I haven't yet read The Last Dickens, but I will!
And now, in the author's words, a preview of The Technologists (!):
1868. The First Class At MIT. The Only Chance To Save Boston.
THE TECHNOLOGISTS is an explosive thriller set in tumultuous nineteenth century Boston. In the spring of 1868, the first students of MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) prepare to graduate at a time when the word “technology” represents a bold and frightening new concept. Just two months before the historic graduation, a series of technological attacks in Boston spread a wave of terror through the population. Harvard, already alarmed by the “radical” education introduced by its new competitor across the Charles River, mobilizes its influence to direct the hysteria and fear against MIT. With the future of their school and careers at stake and innocent lives endangered, the first MIT students must employ their particular skills to stop the attacks and uncover the mastermind. The city's fate will come down to Marcus Mansfield, a Civil War veteran determined to repay MIT's founder for taking a chance on enrolling a working class machinist, as well as fellow “Tech” students, brash Bob Richards, meticulous Edwin Hoyt and the eccentric and brilliant Ellen Swallow, the first female secretly studying at MIT.