Matthew Pearl’s debut novel, The Dante Club, was a huge bestseller and proof that literary doesn’t have to mean boring. This gem is perhaps less well known, but the storyline is just as fascinating. The premise is that as the copyright loophole which allowed for pirating the works of foreign writers residing in other nations was about to close because of The International Copyright Act of 1891, a small group of book pirates and adventurers are on one last mission in the South Seas to steal a novel being written by a dying Robert Louis Stevenson. As usual, Pearl combines fact and fiction in a cocktail which will entertain and edify readers, while also giving them a healthy dose of swashbuckling adventure. His prose is tight and the characters are just mysterious enough without crossing into the ridiculous category. Give this one a go if you like fan fiction based on classics.
Pearl may be challenging, but he is never boring. Who knew that copyright could be so exciting?