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The Poe Shadow    by Matthew Pearl order for
Poe Shadow
by Matthew Pearl
Order:  USA  Can
Random House, 2006 (2006)
Hardcover, Audio, CD, e-Book

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* *   Reviewed by Lyn Seippel

In 1845, young lawyer Quentin Clark admires Edgar Allan Poe and his work so much that he begins a correspondence with the writer that ends with the latter's unexpected death. On the way to the Post Office to see if he has received an answer to his latest letter, Clark happens to notice a poorly attended funeral that he later realizes was the burial of Poe.

Clark never met Poe but he considers him a friend. Shortly before his death, the writer mentions that he is about to launch a periodical called The Stylus and Clark agrees to be his lawyer. When Poe dies, his law partner is relieved, being sure that this client would never have been an asset.

The Baltimore newspapers are unflattering in their coverage of Poe's life and death. Clark decides he must defend his friend. He becomes obsessed with Poe's life and the days before his death. When he learns that Poe's sleuth - Chevalier Auguste Dupin - is based on a real detective, Clark travels to France to find him, sure that together they will be able to solve the mystery of Poe's last days.

Skillful historical research brings the Baltimore of the mid 1800's alive, but the awkward style of Clark's journal slows the pace. The Poe Shadow is a well crafted thriller with numerous plot twists that no Edgar Allan Poe or Matthew Pearl fan should miss.

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