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Publisher's Summary

Audible presents an original production of the aptly named The Mystery of Edwin Drood, Charles Dickens’ final, unfinished novel. Following his untimely death at the age of 58, Dickens managed to publish only six of the 12 planned instalments of the story. 

Though it has gone on to be one of his more popular titles and the source of inspiration for various television, stage and theatre adaptations, no one knows exactly how Dickens planned to end the mystery. This has lent to development of many different theories, but it now relies on you to provide the answers; can you solve The Mystery of Edwin Drood?

This editions features an exclusive afterword written and narrated by Lucinda Hawksley, who holds the unique position of being one of the world’s leading experts on Dickens, and also his great-great-great granddaughter.    

About the book

Upon his coming of age, Edwin Drood is contracted to marry Rosa Bud and thus fulfil his father’s greatest wish: that his son be wed to his best friend’s daughter. 

Unbeknownst to his jealous and malicious uncle, John Jasper, who desperately longs for young Rosa, the couple are not romantically inclined and soon decide to break off their engagement. When Edwin suspiciously disappears on a stormy night, he leaves behind him a trail of evidence which looks to incriminate the very people closest to him.  

Alone and vulnerable, Rosa fears John Jasper’s looming presence and turns to the high-spirited but hot-tempered Neville Landless, and his kindly twin sister, Helena, for protection. 

In this classic whodunit, set in the sinister town of Cloisterham, Dickens paints a disturbing picture of the popular vices of the day, including the many opium dens that John Jasper frequents to live out his drug-fuelled fantasy of marrying Rosa. Would such a man be capable of murdering his own nephew, or could it be Edwin’s closest friends that betrayed his trust? 

You tell us....

About the author

With his father incarcerated, Charles Dickens had to abandon his studies at a young age and set to work in a factory so as to support himself. Despite his short-lived education, Dickens went on to write 15 novels, various articles, novellas and short stories. These include Hard Times, Bleak House, Oliver Twist, Barnaby Rudge, Little Dorrit and A Tale of Two Cities. He lectured and led campaigns for children's rights and education and arguably became the ultimate self-made man. 

Dickens passed away on 9 June 1870 and was laid to rest at the Poet’s Corner in Westminster Abbey.

Public Domain (P)2019 Audible, Ltd

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  • Adam
  • 01-07-2019

A beautiful, enriching mystery

Right from the start the Mystery of Edwin Drood strikes a note of fever dream, through the eyes of a waking opium addict trying to disentangle hallucination from reality. In an ingenious opening chapter, said opium addict, John Jasper, runs from his opium den to don a choir master's robes and join his colleagues at Cloisterham Cathedral, Dicken's fictional Cathedral town and principal setting of the novel. It is a quick rug pull of a change of perspectives, and typical of the unfinished novel's tendency to describe a world where nothing is what it seems. Jasper is apparently zealous for the protection of his young nephew, Edwin Drood. Edwin and a young woman called Rosa have been betrothed to marry as part of a dying father's legacy. So, they have been engaged since birth. Other characters begin to crowd the stage; the kindly and principled Rev Crisparkle, the short fused Neville Landless and his sister Helena, placed with the Rev Crisparkle for their education by a bullying philanthropist, the wonderfully named Mr Honeythunder, the booze loving stonemason Durdles, a capering child called Deputy with a fondness for stoning things, an eccentric bachelor lawyer Mr Grewgious who is the guardian of Rosa and in charge of executing the legacy betrothal. Edwin and Rosa's relationship is 'complicated' by this arrangement and they come to a mutual, and very mature decision to end their betrothal. Shortly after, Edwin disappears, apparently drowned, and the finger of suspicion rests on young Landless, as the two have quarrelled and Neville's unjustified reputation is that of a murderous thug. Meanwhile, a pompous and conceited auctioneer, Mr Sapsea, is politically courted by Jasper. John Jasper seems to be manipulating events, and as we reach the novel's perpetual cliff-hanger, is the chief suspect in Edwin's disappearance and presumed murder, especially after he corners Rosa declaring his sick love for her and causing her to flee. This is a fascinating and compelling read that I will never forget. There is an atmosphere of menace and mental sickness throughout, be that addiction or sociopathic cruelty and obsession. The trademark Dicken's humour and love of the absurdities and playfulness of human conversation is all there, and there are some of his grotesque character pen portraits, but this is darker fare. The story is compelling, and the mystery deepens as the tension increases, until we reach the point where the novel ends, mid paragraph, as the writer is claimed by illness and death. A brilliant and enlightening post-script by Lucinda Hawksley, the great great great Granddaughter of Dickens, gives some background to the story and describes how writers such as Conan Doyle and others have tried to complete the story, and there is a fascinating description of a mock 'trial' of John Jasper which had to be abandoned because it got so unruly. But the truth is Dickens left very few clues, and no one can ever really say how it was meant to play out. Some versions will be more convincing than others according to the skill of the storyteller and their fidelity to the logic of the source material, but we will never know, and in the end, we are left with beautiful, enriching mystery. Billy Howle does a fantastic job with the narration, he really gets the energy of Dickens and the essence of each character; the tired rasp of John Jasper, the rising optimistic cadences of the Rev Crisparkle, for instance. Audible really does seem to be making excellent choice for the narrators of its Dickens Collection, as with Owen Teale’s reading of Dombey and Son, and Kobna Holbrook Smith’s Nicholas Nickelby.

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  • stuart h.
  • 16-10-2020

Superb Reading by Howle

Billy Howle's amazing capacity for so many different characters from one voice box is formidable!

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