Friday, October 26, 2007

The Poe Shadow by Matthew Pearl

First sentence:

"I present to you, Your Honor and Gentlemen of the Jury, the truth about this man's death and my life."


"Baltimore, 1849. The body of Edgar Allan Poe has been buried in an unmarked grave. The public, the press, and even Poe’s own family and friends accept the conclusion that Poe was a second-rate writer who met a disgraceful end as a drunkard. Everyone, in fact, seems to believe this except a young Baltimore lawyer named Quentin Clark, an ardent admirer who puts his own career and reputation at risk in a passionate crusade to salvage Poe’s.

As Quentin explores the puzzling circumstances of Poe’s demise, he discovers that the writer’s last days are riddled with unanswered questions the police are possibly willfully ignoring. Just when Poe’s death seems destined to remain a mystery, and forever sealing his ignominy, inspiration strikes Quentin–in the form of Poe’s own stories. The young attorney realizes that he must find the one person who can solve the strange case of Poe’s death: the real-life model for Poe’s brilliant fictional detective character, C. Auguste Dupin, the hero of ingenious tales of crime and detection.

In short order, Quentin finds himself enmeshed in sinister machinations involving political agents, a female assassin, the corrupt Baltimore slave trade, and the lost secrets of Poe’s final hours. With his own future hanging in the balance, Quentin Clark must turn master investigator himself to unchain his now imperiled fate from that of Poe’s."

My thoughts:

This book had a good attention to detail as I learned a lot about Baltimore and Paris in the late 1840s-1850s. I did find that the plot sometimes dragged a bit as Quentin's personal fate overshadowed the mystery of Poe's death, but it was nicely wrapped up at the end. I also liked Pearl's notes at the end as he explains how he used actual newspaper quotes and letters throughout the narrative.

Date read: 10/24/2007
Book #: 94
Rating: 3* = good
Genre: Historical Fiction/Mystery

ISBN-10: 1400061032
ISBN-13: 9781400061037
Publisher: Random House
Year: 2006
# of Pages: 384
Binding: Hardcover
LibraryThing Page

1 comment:

Literary Feline said...

I have a copy of this one in my TBR collection. The Poe aspect of the novel is what first interested me in this title. Thank you for the great review!