Its proud lines intermittently visible through the early morning fog, the Light of the East might have been the most carefree ship that ever floated into
Some of the sailors, their bearded faces browned and peeling from too much sun,
cracked the last rations of walnuts in their fists or under their boot heels,
singing some ancient song about a girl left behind. After wild March winds,
stormy seas, dangerous ports, backbreaking work, and all the extremes of
experience, they’d be handed a good pay at port, then freed to lose it to the
city’s myriad pleasures. Boston
Set in nineteenth-century Boston, The Technologists traces the misadventures of the first class at M.I.T. Unlike now, though, M.I.T. does not have any prestige – in fact the very word technology is more likely to terrify than electrify the people. In the midst of a brutal fight for the school’s very soul, a group of scholars led by “charity scholar” Marcus Mansfield try to solve the mystery behind a series of deadly disasters that devastate the heart of the city of Boston. Fighting against the very people they are trying to save, as well as a shadowy figure determined to bring the city to its knees, the Technologists must find a way of proving their innocence if their future is to have any chance of surviving.
The Technologists flew onto my radar the moment I heard about it. I have read and loved all three of Mr Pearl’s previous historical novels and have shared them with members of my family. Again, I was looking for something different to delve into after Blue Remembered Earth’s science fictional sense of wonder. The Technologists delivered, although I found it slightly less enthralling that I had the previous novels.
The mystery side of things works very well – I had no idea of who the culprit was until the reveal at the end of the book. Seeing the characters struggle to understand what is going on using science and deduction made for surprisingly gripping reading. As they realize the true dangers involved and their enemy continues to threaten greater and greater tragedies, the tension becomes palpable, leading to an explosive ending.
That ending did seem a little convoluted and extraordinary, but if you can suspend your belief enough it works. Especially if you imagine it happening up on a big screen!
All in all, I thoroughly enjoyed this new Matthew Pearl book. If anyone reads and enjoys this, I would encourage you to delve into his other novels, especially The Dante Club which is more of a murder/serial killer mystery. I gave this 3 and a half women in a glass coffins out of 5.
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