What if Poe had to solve the uncanny mysteries that wormed their way into his life? How would he apply his puzzle-solving skills with actual consequences on the line?
One frigid Philadelphia morning, Mr. Poe receives an odd parcel. It’s the third such strange box from an unknown sender. Poe calls upon his friend, and ornithologist Father Keane to help him decipher the meaning of the taxidermied birds, feathers, moss and plants. The clues seem to suggest a sort of warning and very quickly their sender is revealed.
Also darkening the parlor door is Chevalier C. Auguste Dupin, in the flesh. Known as the leading character in Poe’s tales of ratiocination, here Dupin is a real person who assists Poe as they unravel the mystery of a South American expedition, a lost journal and a death.
Dupin shrugged. “It it not wise to repudiate such an ancient art. What we dismiss today as superstition, science may prove to be fully valid in the future.”
This I had not expected from Dupin.
“You are surprised by my lack of skepticism?” he said with a thin smile. “Remember our discussion of the cleverness of the raven when we met with Mr. Dickens’s pet? It has long been known that birds sense things we do not — imminent earthquakes and other disasters of nature, for example. … Civilizations more advanced than ours practiced ornithomancy.” ~ Pg 123
I am always wary of these sorts of books — ones that imagine authors as characters in their own stories or pit them against their imagined nemesis. They are incredibly difficult to do well, and even when they are, inevitably some readers will be disappointed when the characterization doesn’t match their own imaginings.
Thankfully, this novel stays away from cheap gimmicks and manages to tell a good story with only a few winks to a knowledgeable Poe fan. Careful readers will notice glimpses of other Poe references — the off-handed mention of a M. Valdemar, plus the disdainful Mr. Reynolds.
It’s a solid, entertaining read, if not a startlingly brilliant one. It’s enjoyable for fans of Poe and a fun puzzle mystery.
The hardcover is out now from Pegasus Books. My thanks to Jessica for the review copy.
Paperback: 352 pages
Publisher: Pegasus Books; Reprint edition (December 10, 2019)
Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 8.2 inches