It is so strange to see a long, well-plotted novel suddenly come to
a dead stop. (Of a projected twelve episodes, Dickens wrote six
before his death.) The title character is either murdered or
missing, and a large cast of characters in London and Cloisterham
(Dickenss Rochester) are involved in their own way in discovering
what happened to Edwin Drood.
There is first of all John Jasper, an opium addict who
suspiciously loves Droods ex-fiancee; there is a nameless old woman
who dealt him the opium who is trying to nail Jasper; there is a
suspicious pile of quicklime Jasper notices during a late night
stroll through the cathedral precincts; there is Durdles who knows
all the secrets of the Cathedral of Cloisterhams underground burial
chambers; there is the deputy, a boy in the pay of several
characters who has seen all the comings and goings; there are the
Anglo-Indian Landless twins, one of whom developed a suspicious
loathing for Drood; there is the lovely Rosebud, unwilling target
of every mans affections; and we havent even begun talking about
Canon Crisparkle, Datchery, Tartar, and a host of other characters.
All we know is that the game is afoot, but well never know the
It would have been nice to know how Dickens tied together all
these threads, but we can still enjoy THE MYSTERY OF EDWIN DROOD
because -- wherever Dickens was heading with it -- it is very
evidently the equal of his best works. Life is fleeting, and not
all masterpieces are finished
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