as an author that writes well, i believe simmons fails in this novel because he was too in love with his research and couldn't resist cramming it in at all occasions. the characters are well-drawn but they are based on real-life people, like dickens and wilkie collins but i don't buy the characterizations. they seemed like people wearing famous literary masks. i was led to believe that this book would shed some light on the mystery of edwin drood, the unfinished dickens novel that it was inspired by, but what theories put forward are lame, unconvincing. and given simmons reputation i had expected a much scarier book. the first twenty-five pages were grotesque and frightening, and probably had the most impact on me but very quickly the most nerve-wracking moments in this novel became encumbered by the amount of material and research that the author chose to cover.
*** coming back after many moons because i've been thinking about this in comparison with The Stress of Her Regard, and i wish simmons had taken some cues from that book. i think powers managed a fine balance between research and story that isn't accomplished in drood.