I’ve known of Edgar Allan Poe for years, even before I had ever read any of his tales. His presence looms over the Gothic genre and not many are able to reach the same level of beauty and darkness. I had read once that Poe was the originator of the detective genre but had never thought to read these stories for myself until Pushkin Press’ new edition came across my computer. Thanks to Pushkin Press and NetGalley for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
Pub. Date: 3/20/2020
Publisher: Pushkin Press; Pushkin Vertigo
Three macabre and confounding mysteries for the first and greatest of detectives, Auguste Dupin
An apartment on the rue Morgue turned into a charnel house; the corpse of a shopgirl dragged from the Seine; a high-stakes game of political blackmail - three mysteries that have enthralled the whole of Paris, and baffled the city's police. The brilliant Chevalier Auguste Dupin investigates - can he find the solution where so many others before him have failed?
These three stories from the pen of Edgar Allan Poe are some of the most influential ever written, widely praised and credited with inventing the detective genre. This edition contains: 'The Murders in the Rue Morgue', 'The Mystery of Marie Rogêt' and 'The Purloined Letter'.
In The Paris Mysteries are collected the three stories that created the detective genre. You will recognize it immediately. The reclusive genius, his best friend who is just a tad slower, the mumbling detective who tries his best, the outlandish crimes. It feels like coming home, in a way. Since we have been spoiled by countless Sherlock Holmes adaptations over the past few years, I hopefully can’t be blamed for occasionally mistaking Auguste Dupin for Holmes himself. The ease with which these stories flow is amazing when you consider that they are the first. Many authors aim for this, but they also have many examples to follow and imitate. Poe was the first and his talent shines through each of the three stories.
First is ‘The Murders of the Rue Morgue’, in which we are first introduced to Dupon and his companion. They live in joint repose, walking the streets at night and meeting no one. Until, that is, a gruesome and unexplainable murder is committed. I can’t lie, when we got to the resolution I had to put the book down for a second. It was outrageous in the most hilarious, apt way. ‘The Mystery of Marie Roget’, the second story, is fascinating in a completely different way. It is based on the real case of Mary Rogers which took place in the USA, and is moved to Paris in the story. Poe used writing the story to try and understand the mystery of Mary Rogers’ disappearance and death himself. The real crime itself still goes unsolved to this day. The third story is ‘The Purloined Letter’ in which, as the title suggests, a letter is stolen from a high-ranked royal. Elements of it will appear very familiar to Sherlockians, and there was even a film adaptation in which Holmes solves this case.
Poe’s writing in these stories is brilliant, in the way Arthur Conan Doyle’s is, in that he manages to not make it boring when someone rambles on for page after page about minute details. It is still gripping, still interesting to see just where Poe and Dupin will take us. The setting of Paris is also lovely, as it feels appropriately melancholy and beautiful for a Poe story. Furthermore, these stories don’t cut down on the gore of the detective genre. There are slashed throats, blood stains and drownings. Something interesting I read is that the three stories allow Poe to explore three different settings; the streets in the first story, the outdoors in the second, and the private sphere in the third. It’s fascinating to think of the stories from this perspective, as each leads to a different kind of deduction and a different kind of answer. The only potential downside to reading The Paris Mysteries is that the stories were so central to the genre that their elements are now almost too familiar. Thankfully, the first story has an enormous twist that will carry you through all the other elements.
I give this collection…
Fans of Poe will need little convincing to give this collection a try. They are great stories and beautifully presented by Pushkin Press in this edition. If the detective genre is your thing, you have to read the one who started it all!