Boston. 1865. A small group of elite scholars prepares to introduce Dante's vision of hell to America. But so does a murderer. The literary geniuses of the Dante Club - poets and Harvard professors Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Dr Oliver Wendell Holmes, James Russell Lowell and publisher J. T. Fields - are finishing America's first translation of The Divine Comedy. The powerful old guard of Harvard College wants to keep Dante in obscurity, believing that the infiltration of such foreign superstitions will prove as corrupting as the immigrants invading Boston Harbor. The members of the Dante Club fight to keep their sacred literary cause alive, but their plans fall apart when a series of murders erupts through Boston and Cambridge. Only this small group of scholars realises that the gruesome killings are modelled on the descriptions of Hell's punishments from Dante's Inferno. With the police baffled, lives endangered and Dante's literary future at stake, the Dante Club must shed its sheltered literary existence and find a way to stop the killer.
Matthew Pearl graduated from Harvard University summa cum laude in English and American Literature in 1997, and in 2000 from Yale Law School, where he wrote the first draft of The Dante Club. In 1998, he won the prestigious Dante Prize from the Dante Society of America for his scholarly work. He is also the editor of the new Modern Library edition of Dante's Inferno, translated by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. He grew up in Fort Lauderdale and currently lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts. The Dante Club is his first novel. He can be reached via his website, www.thedanteclub.com.