Just finished listening to The Darwin Conspiracy by John Darnton.
The Darwin Conspiracy concerns research into the life and works of Charles Darwin, particularly the question of why he waited 22 years to publish his theories on evolution and the origins of man. A young couple chance onto Darwin family journals and pursue records of other Beagle passengers, coming up with some unusual answers.
I could be cynical and point out connections to The Da Vinci Code. So many books these days seem to be knockoffs, in ways big or small, from the blockbuster Dan Brown book: the dogged pursuit of clues hinted at in artwork or journals, the unmasking of long-buried scandals, etc., etc.
But truth be told, I enjoyed the story except for one lingering question: why would this author choose to portray Darwin as a thief, a plagiarist, and possibly a murderer? I know nothing of Darnton except what biographical info is readily available. But in this era when Darwin's theories are still a lightning rod for controversy, what motivation might he have for assailing Darwin's reputation?
And a bigger question might be: what responsibility should a writer of fiction have toward the reputation of real people?