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Wednesday, February 22, 2012

The Poe Shadow, by Matthew Pearl

In The Poe Shadow, Matthew Pearl takes an historical mystery (the death of Edgar Allan Poe) and creates a fictional character who sets out to unravel the mystery. The book impressed me. I thought it was well-written, intriguing, well-researched. I thought the authorial voice and the dialog sounded like one would expect 19th century Baltimoreans to sound (not that I'm an expert). Pearl even gives his book a bit of a flavor of Poe, with the narrator occasionally seeming unhinged, possibly mad.

I was disappointed in one particular only. This book being a hybrid of fiction and non-fiction, one does not finish it with the same moral certainty that the mystery has been solved as one normally finishes a purely fictional mystery.

I would recommend this book to any fan of detective fiction or of Poe. Unlike Pearl's Dante Club, The Poe Shadow is not gruesome.

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