The Poe Shadow

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The Poe Shadow
Author Matthew Pearl
Country United States
Language English
Genre Mystery novel
Publisher Random House
Publication date
Media type Hardcover (first edition)
Pages 384 pp (first edition hardcover)
ISBN 1-4000-6103-2
OCLC 62331113
813/.6 22
LC Class PS3616.E25 P64 2006
Preceded by The Dante Club
Followed by The Last Dickens

The Poe Shadow is a novel by Matthew Pearl, first published by Random House in 2006. It tells the story of one young lawyer's quest to solve the mystery of Edgar Allan Poe's death in 1849. It is a work of historical and literary fiction, where some previously unpublished details about the last days of Poe are conveyed through the thoughts and the actions of the main character, along with the generally shared ideas on Poe's death as of the publication date.

Plot summary[edit]

Baltimore lawyer Quentin Hobson Clark witnesses the somber, simple funeral of Edgar Allan Poe on October 8, 1849. He had previously corresponded with Poe about providing legal support for a new publication, The Stylus. Clark feels obliged to look into the mysterious circumstances surrounding Poe's death, despite protests from his fiancée Hattie Blum and his friend Peter Stuart.

Clark's journey takes him to Paris to seek out the real-life inspiration for Poe's character C. Auguste Dupin, a man of intellect who could help unravel the mystery. After eliminating several possibilities, he meets Baron C.A. Dupin, a famous lawyer, and a detective with a similar name, Auguste Duponte. After a confrontation with the Baron Dupin and his female aide, Bonjour, Clark realizes that the Baron is not the character described in Poe's stories. He determines that Auguste Duponte, with his approach to problem-solving through ratiocination, was the real inspiration for the character.

Clark and Duponte return to Baltimore to investigate Poe's final days, only to find that the Baron and Bonjour are already doing the same. Both parties interview the funeral attendants and witnesses, and try to obtain Poe's final letter, discovered by funeral attendant Henry Reynolds.

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