In the follow-up to his popular The Dante Club, Pearl enlists Christina Rossetti, Robert Browning, Alfred Tennyson, and Dr. Oliver Wendell Holmes to decipher literary clues that may solve a series of murders in London, the next victim of which may be Rossetti's brother Gabriel.
The plot here is perhaps even more complex than that of The Dante Club, but the sleuths lack some of the charisma of their American counterparts (especially Longfellow). Still, Pearl again does a stunning job of transforming Dante into brilliantly staged crime fiction ... Literary-fiction book clubbers who like to dabble in thrillers will be palpitating at another chance to mix Dante and murder.
If writers interest you, you’ll enjoy Pearl’s evocation of these esteemed authors, who prove to be all too human ... The literary talk is fun, but the solution of the murders is less so ... When one of our poet-sleuths falls into Sibbie’s clutches, the others set out to the rescue. A bloody confrontation ensues, one that goes on far too long and largely defies belief. Pearl does far better with poets than with criminals.
It is clear that quality literature and its historical context are what Pearl knows best, and it rings true in his intelligent and entertaining works of fiction ... The Dante Chamber provides many thrills and continues to dig deeper into Dante's Inferno. At one point, the chief investigator states, 'Literature, like a parasite, can envelop a man's whole soul when weakened' ... Matthew Pearl expertly examines all of these sentiments, and the historical facts lend much credibility to his efforts.