Cover image for The detective and Mr. Dickens : a secret Victorian journal attributed to Wilkie Collins
The detective and Mr. Dickens : a secret Victorian journal attributed to Wilkie Collins
Palmer, William J., 1943-
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Publication Information:
New York : St. Martin's Press, 1990.
General Note:
"A Thomas Dunne book."
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In Victorian London, Charles Dickens and his protege, author Wilkie Collins, make the acquaintance of the shrewdest mind either would ever encounter: Inspector William Field of the newly formed Metropolitan Protectives. A gentleman's brutal murder brings the three men together in an extraordinary investigation that leads Dickens to the beautiful young actress Ellen Ternan, who would become the love of his life but who now stands accused of murder.

Reviews 2

Booklist Review

This raucously bawdy novel is cast in the form of a secret memoir written by Wilkie Collins, a real-life compatriot and protege of Charles Dickens. Drawn into a murder investigation, Collins and Dickens collaborate with ~Holmesian inspector William Field, staking out a circle of decadent, upper-class gentlemen with a penchant for kinky sex. Their trafficking in pornography and their scheme to buy and drug young girls for sexual pleasure are uncovered, but in the process, the amateur detectives come face-to-face with the hypocritical nature of Victorian society. Rounding out the colorful cast are a group of prostitutes, beggars, and thieves (whom Dickens' fans will recognize from his books) who provide the two novelists with plenty of grist for the mill as well as entree into London's teeming underclass. Amazingly entertaining, suspenseful reading for both mystery aficionados and literature lovers. ~--Joanne Wilkinson

Publisher's Weekly Review

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.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved