Sunday, June 1, 2014

The Pale Blue Eye

by Louis Bayard

An 1830's murder mystery set at West Point Academy, a cadet is found hanging in the woods with his heart removed. A retired detective, Gus Landor is sent to investigate the crime. To assist his sleuthing, he recruits a young Edgar Allan Poe, who spies on his fellows and secretly reports back to Landor. Before the crime is solved there are more murders and trouble with Academy officers.

Bayard presents a pretty convincing Poe, as well as other characters. The writing is reflective of Poe's works (if not quite up to the quality). The mystery is perplexing and includes a few twists. And while I didn't care for the momentary corny turn of events upon discovering the murderer, the plot quickly righted itself with a final unexpected turn.

Having recently read through some selected works of Poe, this book may have been offered as a theoretical launching pad for some of Poe's more famous works; The Tell-Tale Heart, The Raven, Murders in the Rue Morgue. But even if you aren't familiar with these stories, you can enjoy The Pale Blue Eye for the history, mystery, characters and writing style. 

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