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Pearl's second historical thriller involving literary figures (after 2003's The Dante Club) is set in 1849, when young lawyer Quentin Clark's desire to burnish the tarnished reputation of his favorite author-poet, the recently deceased Edgar Allan Poe, drives him to such extremes he eventually winds up on trial for insanity and murder. His defense forms the novel. Singer provides Clark with a splendidly appropriate voice: young, intelligent, yet naïve and idealistic. He's also adept at capturing the attorney's shifting moods, from his indignation at journalists' shoddy sendoff of Poe (labeling him a debaucher and drunk) to an increasing obsession as he puts his practice and his impending marriage on hold, ocean-hopping to Europe to seek the aid of the real-life model for Poe's genius-sleuth, C. Auguste Dupin. Some listeners may raise an eyebrow at Singer's use of fractured French for one of the Dupins and an equally arch British accent for the other. They should be reminded that all of the characters are being filtered through the sensibilities (and vocal capabilities) of a not terribly sophisticated Baltimore barrister. Simultaneous release with Random House hardcover (Reviews, Mar. 13).
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Matthew Pearl's best-selling The Dante Club (2003) successfully meshed history, literature, and mystery. Though he tries to duplicate this formula and honor a great American writer, The Poe Shadow fails to garner similar interest. First, Pearl's attempt to echo 19th-century prose is fusty and verbose. Second, Clark, though he has his eccentricities, is rather "poor company" (Wall Street Journal). Third, while the subplots offer intrigue, they rarely advance the plot and never attain the macabre tone of Poe's tales. The historical context, however (though weighed down by ponderous if meticulous research), provides new insights into Poe's personal life and literary career. The verdict: for Poe (or Pearl) fans only.
Copyright © 2004 Phillips & Nelson Media, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.See all Editorial Reviews
This book is badly written.
Yes, Matthew Pearl is attempting to adopt something of the style of the time he is writing about, and there were many terrible writers among... Read more
Really doesn't live up his other books. Didn't integrate the history of the author and, as a mystery, was only average. Way too long and verbose.Published 8 months ago by April Daffodil
I haven't been able to finish it. His other book was MUCH better. (Dante)Published 11 months ago by liz
First, I am not a big fan of mysteries. My consciousness could not be suspended enough to make this one interesting to me. It was definitely not a page turner. Read morePublished 16 months ago by bookworm
Allow me, for a moment, to quote one of the Mr. Pearl's characters in the story: "If somebody had edited [the book], heaven forgive them, it was not a poet of experience and... Read morePublished 17 months ago by James B.
I'm a Matthew Pearl fan, and I've given five-star ratings to his other books, but this one isn't quite on a par with them. Read morePublished 20 months ago by bobbalouie
I haven't read this one yet, but I have read The Dante Club and started The Last Dickens. Pearl write very interesting stories about our favorite authors, bringing their world... Read morePublished 21 months ago by Lindsay Burkholder