The Detective and Mr. Dickens: Being an Account of the Macbeth Murders and the Strange Events Surrounding Them: A Secret Victorian Journal, Attribute

William J. Palmer, Editor, Wilkie Collins, Author
William J. Palmer, Editor, Wilkie Collins, Author St. Martin's Press $17.95 (290p) ISBN 978-0-312-05073-3
Reviewed on: 10/31/1990
Release date: 11/01/1990
Purdue University English professor Palmer employs his expertise about Charles Dickens to create a Victorian pastiche with a difference. Not only does he provide a fictional mystery peopled by characters from literary classics, but he also takes his protagonists on a sexually explicit adventure that could not have been issued in the prudish 19th century. Purporting to be ``A Secret Victorian Journal attributed to Wilkie Collins, discovered and edited'' by Palmer, the novel is ostensibly based on a journal kept by Collins in which he recorded his and Dickens's adventures during the years that they performed in amateur theatricals and enjoyed London nightlife together. As confidants and aides to London's Inspector Field, the two literary men help solve a brutal murder. The intentionally melodramatic tale is related in a generally believeable Victorian voice, and includes explicit passages attributed to pornographic books in a lord's extensive collection. Like Dickens, Palmer reveals the hypocrisy rampant in repressed Victorian society. Along the way he offers an explanation for Dickens's attraction to actress Ellen Ternan, who eventually became his mistress. Mystery Guild featured selection. (Nov.)
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