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The Poe Shadow
The Poe Shadow
Author: Matthew Pearl
“I present to you . . . 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, ...  more »
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ISBN-13: 9780812970128
ISBN-10: 0812970128
Publication Date: 7/10/2007
Pages: 384
  • Currently 3.1/5 Stars.

3.1 stars, based on 74 ratings
Publisher: Random House Trade Paperbacks
Book Type: Paperback
Other Versions: Hardcover, Audio Cassette, Audio CD
Reviews: Member | Amazon | Write a Review

Top Member Book Reviews

BaileysBooks avatar reviewed The Poe Shadow on + 491 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 11
I've heard several people complain about this book, saying that it was too slow, boring, and mostly uneventful. I happen to disagree. I really enjoy historical fiction from this era and I was not disappointed with Pearl's efforts. While I believe that The Dante Club is more likely to appeal to a larger audience, I still found this book well worth reading.

I feel like Matthew Pearl did a very good job in attempting to piece together the clues surrounding the mysterious death of Poe. He did so with a seamless transition of fact and fiction, bringing in quite a colorful cast of investigators (with no less than two C. Auguste Dupins, to be exact) and a plot that, while not exceptionally fast-paced, did move forward. Perhaps 'steady' would be the best choice of words.

Before reading this book I would recommend checking out Poe's original short stories featuring C. Auguste Dupin, the prototype that Doyle eventually molded into Sherlock Holmes. 'Murder in the Rue Morgue' is considered to be the first true detective fiction story. It was followed by 'The Mystery of Marie Roget' and 'The Purloined Letter.' I read them prior to reading The Poe Shadow and found that it helped me to appreciate and enjoy Pearl's work that much more.
perryfran avatar reviewed The Poe Shadow on + 1197 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 7
I have been an Edgar Allan Poe fan for years and I was looking forward to reading this book. However, the writing style and the story itself did not really impress me and it was hard to keep interested. The book was written in the vernacular and style of the 19th century and I sometimes couldn't focus on what was being said. I had to reread several passages. The style reminded me some of Conan Doyles Sherlock Holmes stories, but the Holmes stories were much better written and kept your attention. I didnt understand the motivations of the main character and why he was so interested in finding out what happened to Poe before his untimely death. And to me the conclusion was anticlimatic.
lovegoodbooks avatar reviewed The Poe Shadow on + 55 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 4
This book held my attention, which says a lot, because I rarely read novels anymore, opting instead for more substantially educational venues. I don't recall why I actually ordered this book from a PBS member, but it may have something to do with liking literature from the era about which this book was written. I found the tone of the author consistent with the subject matter and really quite entraining. I read the whole book over 3-4 days. The plot was original and interesting. The style almost flawless. In short, it was a very good read and I recommend it to anyone who likes reading literature in the style of Poe or Arthur Conan Doyle.
reviewed The Poe Shadow on + 407 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 2
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.
reviewed The Poe Shadow on
Helpful Score: 2
As a bit of detective work on the circumstances around Poe's death, the research behind this novel could have fueled an interesting NYT Sunday Magazine piece or perhaps a paper in an academic journal. As a novel, it is deadly, with pacing that is truly glacial and dialogue that fairly clunks off the page (speech in the novel is so obviously targeted at reminder the reader who is related to who, etc., that it sounds like bad radio-play dialogue from the forties). Plotwise, the author was apparently so constrained by the historical parameters he set for himself that nothing interesting was really ever allowed to happen. It's not often that I finish a book and groan (I'm much more likely to give up earlier) but for some reason I stuck this one out and was heartily disappointed.
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