The Poe Shadow by Matthew Pearl
A Novel

69%

12 Critic Reviews

Pearl has created a museum rather than a world. And no one lives in a museum.
-NY Times

Synopsis

“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, 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.

Following his phenomenal debut novel, The Dante Club, Matthew Pearl has once again crossed pitch-perfect literary history with innovative mystery to create a beautifully detailed, ingeniously plotted tale of suspense. Pearl’s groundbreaking research–featuring documented material never published before–opens a new window on the truth behind Poe’s demise, literary history’s most persistent enigma. The resulting novel is a publishing event that, through sublime craftsmanship, subtle wit, and devious twists, does honor to Poe himself


From the Hardcover edition.
 

About Matthew Pearl

See more books from this Author
Matthew Pearl is the New York Times bestselling author of The Dante Club and the editor of the Modern Library editions of Dante's Inferno (translated by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow) and Edgar Allan Poe's The Murders in the Rue Morgue: The Dupin Tales. The Dante Club has been published in more than thirty languages and forty countries around the world. Pearl is a graduate of Harvard University and Yale Law School and has taught literature at Harvard and at Emerson College. He lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts. He can be reached via his website, www.matthewpearl.com.To schedule a speaking engagement, please contact American Program Bureau at www.apbspeakers.com From the Hardcover edition.
 
Published May 23, 2006 by Random House. 416 pages
Genres: History, Mystery, Thriller & Suspense, Literature & Fiction, Action & Adventure, Humor & Entertainment, Horror, Crime. Fiction
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Critic reviews for The Poe Shadow
All: 12 | Positive: 7 | Negative: 5

NY Times

Below average
Reviewed by Review By Claire Dederer on Jun 11 2006

Pearl has created a museum rather than a world. And no one lives in a museum.

Read Full Review of The Poe Shadow: A Novel | See more reviews from NY Times

NY Times

Above average
Reviewed by Janet Maslin on Jun 05 2006

Mr. Pearl overworks them to the point of confusion.

Read Full Review of The Poe Shadow: A Novel | See more reviews from NY Times

Guardian

Good
Reviewed by Mark Lawson on Jun 16 2006

While The Da Vinci Code is filled with sentences incapable of being read once, Pearl's book has many that merit a second look.

Read Full Review of The Poe Shadow: A Novel | See more reviews from Guardian

Book Reporter

Excellent
on Jan 18 2011

Ultimately, readers are left with an astoundingly well-devised mystery that even the great Poe would have loved.

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AV Club

Good
on Jul 12 2006

The Poe Shadow is a highbrow page-turner that might benefit from a few more pretensions.

Read Full Review of The Poe Shadow: A Novel | See more reviews from AV Club

Entertainment Weekly

Below average
on May 24 2006

The Poe Shadow cannot quite overcome the fact that it is, at bottom, a stunt — an emulation of the style of the real person being fictionalized.

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Booklist Online

Excellent
on Mar 01 2006

This is similar to Pearl’s Dante Club (2002), which portrayed renowned authors trailing a serial killer, in its masterful blend of historical and fictional figures, meticulous research, and nineteenth-century literary style.

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Slate

Above average
on May 24 2006

Striking in The Poe Shadow is the vigorous blurring of fiction and nonfiction.

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Boston.com

Good
on Jun 12 2006

Pearl evokes his absent hero with longer sentences, often twisted into internal dialogues full of the kind of obsessive asides that lace Poe's work.

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Red Room

Below average
on Aug 16 2009

There is no description here of why Poe had come to Baltimore, which was an unplanned trip, or what he was doing for the four or five days.

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Helium

Excellent
on Apr 01 2009

For fans of Poe, or merely fans of Sherlock Holmes-style mysteries, this book is a must-read.

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Helium

Below average
on Oct 22 2007

In a word, the book wasn't what I expected, and I'm disappointed about that.

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Reader Rating for The Poe Shadow
55%

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