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Death strikes England’s foremost novelist, his latest tale only half told. Was he murdered because someone feared a ruinous revelation? Or was he repaid in deadly coin for some past misdeed? Set in the Kent countryside and London slums of 1870, ‘The Last Chapter’ embeds an original denouement to the most celebrated, unsolved mystery in fiction within the evolving and ultimately tragic consequences of the author’s double life.
Believing Charles Dickens was poisoned to prevent him completing ‘The Mystery of Edwin Drood’, Dunston Burnett, the author’s nephew, scours the half-finished manuscript in search of pointers as to how the story might unfold and whom it might threaten. Knowing the writer’s methods better than anyone, he eventually figures out the intended ending -- a chilling, prison-cell confession. Better yet, he recognizes the real-life counterpart behind the damning portrait of the villain. But has he found the killer?
A second murder opens the literary sleuth’s eyes to the real confession in the last chapter -- the author’s disclosure of his own shameful secret. Armed with this new insight, Dunston follows a series of tenuous clues across London until finally tracking down the guilty party. A satisfactory outcome, it would seem, except for one tiny detail -- the nephew still hasn’t come anywhere near the full truth behind his uncle’s murder.