I’ve read a few other Matthew Pearl books before. They’re decent historical mysteries, for what they are. Pearl’s writing is fine, for what it is. But then there comes a point where one has to say “enough.”
I pretty much always read every book to the end, no matter how bad it is. Not this time. Observe:
Hammie’s jet-black hair was parted smartly, impervious to the breeze, but his bulbous forehead and gourdlike chin, inexpertly shaved, overshadowed his otherwise bland facial features, which seemed to have been left unfinished by their creator. A contender, along with good-hearted Edwin Hoyt, for First Scholar, Hammie generally floated along in his own rarified world of figures and formulas. Standing near the front steps was that busybody Albert Hall, writing in a ledger held in the crook of his arm, maybe recording the names of the students present (or, more likely, listing those not present, underlined by his pencil with spite), and next to Albert was Bryant Tilden, arms crossed petulantly across his tree-trunk chest.
Yeah, there was a lot of stuff like that. Plus, I was about 1/4 of the way through when I figured out who did it and why. Which would be all right, if the book were well-written, but it is not. I love a good historical mystery. I’ll read the decent ones. But I had to take a stand. So I stood, on page 139. So this won’t count as one of my reviews, but I had to warn everyone.