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The Dante Club by Matthew Pearl
In 1865, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow begins to work on an English translation of Dante's The Divine Comedy. He is aided by poets James Russell Lowell and Oliver Wendell Holmes, publisher James T. Fields and historian George Washington Greene, and they form the Dante Club in Cambridge, Massachusetts. The leadership at Harvard University, where many of the men also teach, do their best to block their work because they believe that teaching Dante is immoral and dangerous. When people are murdered in the manners described in Dante's Inferno, the men of the Dante Club realize that they are likely suspects because of their work and must solve these crimes themselves. It's a first novel by Matthew Pearl (himself a Dante scholar) that combines literary and historical references with a thriller murder mystery. The San Francisco Chronicle calls it "a hell of a first novel."