Charles Dickens, along with his mistress and her mother, were on board a train in the 1800's when there was a major accident. The car carrying Dickens' and his company was the only first class car not to derail. Dickens climbed out and went down below to help the dead and dying. As he was headed down he met another man going to help. This man's name was Drood. He was hideously deformed and as Dickens went around trying to help where he could, he noticed that everyone Drood went to help immediately died. He becomes obsessed with this creature named Drood, and drags his good friend and fellow author Wilkie Collins, to abandoned graveyards, the slums of London and into crypts themselves in search of the truth.
Well, I am still not too sure what I think about this one. It was interesting enough, the character of Drood was fascinating, but I really wish he would have made more appearances. His lisping, hissing speech gave me the creeps. Even though the story is about Dickens and Collins search for the truth surrounding Drood, it is more about their friendship, their rivalry, and their jealousy of one another, which drives one (or both?) to murder. I was hoping for a huge climax, but by the time I was about 30 pages from the end, I started skimming because I just didn't care anymore. Simmons definitely has a way with words, but it is too wordy at times. I would skip entire pages with long descriptions of things that made no difference to the story whatsoever.
I am a big fan of historical fiction and historical mysteries, but I think all in all this fell very short for me. I wanted more Drood, more nights in the tombs; not ridiculous jealousy to the point of being adolescent, detailed descriptions of opium addiction, and pointless side stories like the marriage of Dickens daughter Kate to Collins brother Charlie.
It was good, but if you are looking for an amazing historical fiction mystery, look elsewhere.